Stocks Extend Slump as Traders Brace for Jobs Day

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The markets fell again after getting walloped in the prior session, as traders mulled data on the labor market and headlines from global central banks.

Today's Markets

As of 12:09 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 65.7 points, or 0.44%, to 14895, the S&P 500 dipped 4.2 points, or 0.26%, to 1605 and the Nasdaq Composite declined 9.6 points, or 0.28%, to 3392.

The markets took a pounding on Wednesday amid continued worries about when the Federal Reserve will begin cutting down on its bond purchases, currently set at $85 billion a month. The losses this week have knocked the Dow and S&P 500 down to levels not seen since early may, trimming down the big gains seen so far this year.

Central banks remained in the spotlight on Thursday. The European Central Bank and Bank of England held their benchmark interest rates at 0.5% as analysts expected. The BoE also said it will keep the scope of its own quantitative easing program at 375 billion pounds. ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to hold a press conference later in the day -- an event that is often a market mover.

Also on the economic front, the Labor Department said new claims for unemployment benefits fell to 346,000 last week from an upwardly-revised 357,000 the week prior. Claims were expected to fall to 345,000 from an initially-reported 354,000.

In corporate news, Calcalist, an Israel-based financial paper, reported that PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) was mulling a $2 billion acquisition of SodaStream (NYSE:PEP), according to a report from Reuters. A SodaStream spokesperson said the company does not comment on "rumor and speculation." PepsiCo could not be immediately be reached for comment.

In commodities, oil prices climbed 57 cents, or 0.61%, to $94.31 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline advanced 0.22% to $2.829 a gallon. Gold was up $5.30, or 0.39%, to $1,403 a troy ounce.