The US markets closed lower on Thursday, with the Dow snapping a nine-day winning streak as investors found few reasons to chase equities a day after the Federal Reserve indicated it still intends to deliver another rate increase in 2017 and detailed the unwinding of $4.5 trillion balance sheet. On the economy front, applications for US unemployment benefits fell sharply in mid-September, reflecting fewer new claims than expected in Florida and Texas following a pair of destructive hurricanes. Initial weekly claims in the period running from September 11 to September 16 fell by 23,000 to 259,000. Earlier in the month claims hit a two-year high after hurricane Harvey. Setting aside new claims tied to the hurricanes, the number of Americans seeking jobless benefits remains near a 44-year bottom. The unemployment rate recently hit a 16-year low of 4.3%, job openings are at a record and companies are hiring at a steady clip. A monthly average of jobless claims, seen as a more stable barometer of labor-market trends, rose by 6,000 to 268,750. That number is expected to turn lower in the next month or two as storm relief efforts accelerate, however. The number of people already collecting unemployment checks, known as continuing claims, rose by 44,000 to 1.98 million.
On the other hand, manufacturing conditions in the mid-Atlantic region accelerated in September and suggest an economy picking up steam. The Philadelphia Fed said its manufacturing index rose to a reading of 23.8, a three-month high, from 18.9 in August. Any reading above zero indicates improving conditions. The current indicators for general activity, new orders, and shipments all increased this month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 53.36 points or 0.24 percent to 22,359.23, the Nasdaq was down 33.35 points or 0.52 percent to 6,422.69, and the S&P 500 edged lower by 7.64 points or 0.30 percent to 2,500.60.