U.S. stocks opened firmly lower Thursday as central banks around the globe were indicating a desire to exit from ultra-easy monetary policies that prevailed during the heart of the 2008-'09 financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.6% at 21,347, the S&P 500 index slipped 0.7% at 2,414, while the Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 1.1% at 6,082, after posting Wednesday's best performance among the U.S. equity benchmarks. Wall Street has closely followed recent central bankers' comments about the strength of the global economy, with recent remarks from the European Central Bank lifting expectations that policy makers may be ready to close a chapter in longstanding monetary-easing programs, which have supported prices in bonds and stocks around the world. Minutes from the ECB released Thursday indicated that the central bank was worried about how best to communicate increasing confidence in the eurozone economy without roiling markets. Those minutes, coming after the Federal Reserve's minutes on Wednesday, helped to drive bond prices lower and yields higher. The 10-year German bond yield hit an 18-month high at 0.54%, while the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.38% on the day. On the economic front, a reading of private-sector employment showed that employers added a seasonally-adjusted 153,000 jobs during the month, below the 180,000 jobs that a consensus of economists had forecast. Meanwhile, initial jobless claims in the period between June 25 and July 1 increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 248,000. Economists use these numbers to get a feel for the official nonfarm-payrolls report due on Friday, with the consensus estimate at 179,000 new jobs created in June. Later in the morning, the Institute for Supply Management report services was 57.4 in June, compared with 56.5 expected. A reading of 50 indicates expansion. In corporate news, shares of Tesla Inc. extended Wednesday's decline after the electric car maker's Model S failed to receive a top safety award. Shares of General Electric slumped after the EU's antitrust watchdog said GE may have misled regulators when the EU was reviewing its $1.65 billion deal with LM Wind Power.
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