FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here
U.S. equity markets fell on Thursday after two stronger-than-expected economic reports sparked worries about when the Fed will start cutting its bond purchases.
As of 3:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66.3 points, or 0.43%, to 15820, the S&P 500 dipped 9 points, or 0.5%, to 1784 and the Nasdaq Composite slid 11.9 points, or 0.3%, to 4026.
The Dow and S&P are on their longest losing streaks since September as traders interpret the latest round of economic data and take money off the table as they close out a strong year. The broad S&P 500 has posted year-to-date gains of more than 25%.
The economic docket is heavy. The Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 3.6% in the third quarter, the fastest since the first quarter of 2012, and higher than a previous reading of 2.8%. Economists expected growth to come in at 3%.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits fell last week to 298,000 from an upwardly revised 321,000 the week prior. Economists expected the number of claims to rise to 325,000 from an initially reported 316,000.
Finally, the Commerce Department said factory orders slipped 0.9%, compared to expectations of a 1% drop.
The all-important monthly jobs report from the Labor Department is due out on Friday. Analysts are paying very close attention to economic data as they try to determine when the Federal Reserve will begin tapering its asset-purchase program.
On the global front, the European Central Bank and Bank of England held their benchmark interest rates steady, as expected. The UK also boosted its 2013 growth estimate to 1.4% from 0.6%, and 2014 to 2.4% from 1.8%. Great Britain has been able to balance austerity and pro-growth measures.
In commodities, gold prices dropped $17, or 1.4%, to $1,230 a troy ounce. Oil gained 17 cents, or 0.17%, to $97.39. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline fell 0.21% to $2.714 a gallon.