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US markets closed lower on Thursday

The US markets closed lower on Thursday, with consumer staples, real estate and technology shares leading the losses. Investors continued to digest a mixed bag of corporate earnings. While results have largely come in ahead of expectations thus far, there have been some disappointments, and others haven't produced the kind of blowout results seen necessary to continue pushing shares higher from elevated levels. Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard said that there are some signs of financial imbalances in the economy. Brainard said two areas of elevated risk are asset valuations and business leverage. Brainard said that it was premature for the Fed to revisit the calibration of core capital and liquidity requirements for the large banks.

On the economy front, the rate of layoffs in the US fell slightly in April and clung near a 45-year low, reflecting a booming jobs market in which work is easy to find and companies are scrambling to find help. Initial jobless claims dipped 1,000 to 232,000 in the week ended April 21. The more stable monthly average of claims rose a scant 1,250 to 231,250. The number of people already collecting unemployment benefits, known as continuing claims, fell by 15,000 to 1.86 million.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index edged up 1 point to 23.2 in April. The index for future activity dropped to 40.7 in April from 47.9 in March. The index for new orders slipped to 18.4 in April from 35.7 in the prior month. Shipments also dropped to 23.9 from 32.4 in the prior month. On the other hand, the current employment index edged up 2 points to 27.1, its highest reading in six months. Separately, the leading economic index rose 0.3% in March, and while it was the smallest increase since last September, the gauge also showed little reason to be worried. A measure of current economic conditions rose 0.2%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 83.18 points or 0.34 percent to 24,664.89, the Nasdaq dropped 57.18 points or 0.78 percent to 7,238.06, and the S&P 500 was down by 15.51 points or 0.57 percent to 2,693.13. 

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