Stocks Slump Lower, Even As Oil Trades Above $50; Friday Jobs Report Looms

U.S. stocks on Thursday began trade lower as crude-oil futures headed above $50 a barrel and as investors awaited a closely watched employment report due Friday. Ahead of that labor-market statistic, claims data showed that the number of people seeking unemployment benefits fell by 5,000 to 249,000 at the end of September--offering more signs of health in the jobs market. The S&P 500 index slipped 6 points, or 0.3%, to 2,153, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 84 points, or 0.5%, at 18,200, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 19 points, or 0.4%, to 5,296. Energy-sector stocks benefited from what has been a steady climb, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange rising 1.2% at $50.40 a barrel. And the yield on the benchmark 10-year note was trading at 1.74%--its highest in about three weeks. In corporate news, Twitter Inc. headed lower after reports indicated that some likely bidders for the micro-blogging site, including Google Inc. parent Alphabet Inc. won't make a bid to acquire the tech outfit.

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