NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market drifted lower Thursday afternoon, paring much of an early loss, following a disappointing report on Americans' spending last month. Bed Bath & Beyond and banks were among the biggest losers.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was down 25 points, or 0.1 percent, at 16,842 as of 3:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index sank three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,956, while the Nasdaq composite index fell six points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,373.
ECONOMY: The government said the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week, the latest evidence that an economic slowdown earlier this year hasn't caused employers to shed workers. In a separate report, the government said consumer spending inched up 0.2 percent last month, half the increase that economists had predicted.
RESPONSE: "The spending data was a soft, but it's not that big of a deal," said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors.
Orlando said the stock market has been rising a little too fast recently, so a slight drop in the summer months wouldn't come as a surprise. "I fully expect to see a hiccup here, but I wouldn't get too worried about it," he said. "It's probably going to set us up for a nice end-of-the-year rally."
TRADING SCRUTINY: Barclays fell after New York's attorney general sued the British bank, claiming that it favored high-frequency traders over large institutions in its private-trading platform, known as a "dark pool." Eric Schneiderman accused Barclays of misleading investors by saying they were safe from predatory high-frequency traders. Barclays' U.S.-listed shares fell 97 cents, or 6 percent, to $14.74.
Other banks that operate similar private-trading platforms also dropped. Morgan Stanley and Citigroup sank more than 1 percent.
TOOK A BATH: Bed Bath & Beyond sank 7 percent, the biggest loss in the S&P 500, after the company posted quarterly earnings and sales late Wednesday that fell short of analysts' estimates. The store's stock dropped $4.58 to $56.53.
POPPED: GoPro jumped 31 percent in its stock-market debut. The company, whose cameras get strapped to the heads of skydivers, extreme skiers and surfers, raised $427 million in its initial public offering Thursday. GoPro soared $7.37 to $31.39 in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq stock market.
HEAVY METAL: Alcoa plans to acquire Firth Rixson, a British maker of jet-engine parts, for $2.9 billion, as the company continues to shift away from its aluminum-smelting roots. Alcoa's stock rose 39 cents, or 3 percent, to $14.95.
EUROPE: Major European markets mostly fell. France's CAC 40 fell 0.5 percent while Germany's DAX lost 0.6 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies was flat.
BONDS AND COMMODITIES: In the market for government bonds, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.53 percent from 2.56 percent late Wednesday. Bond yields fall when prices rise. The price of crude oil fell 66 cents to $105.84 a barrel.