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US markets closed mostly lower on Thursday

The US markets closed mostly lower on Thursday, as weak financials and consumer staples shares eclipsed a rally in the health-care and biotechnology sectors. The Federal Reserve said that the 34 largest US banks have all cleared the first stage of an annual stress test, showing they would be able to maintain enough capital in an extreme recession to meet regulatory requirements. Although the banks, including household names like JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp, would suffer $383 billion in loan losses in the Fed's most severe scenario, their level of high-quality capital would be substantially higher than the threshold that regulators demand, and an improvement over last year's level. The Fed introduced the stress tests in the wake of the financial crisis to ensure the health of the banking industry, whose ability to lend is considered crucial to the health of the economy.

On the economy front, fewer than 250,000 Americans applied for unemployment benefits in mid-June, underscoring the strength of a US jobs market whose biggest problem is a growing shortage of qualified workers. Initial jobless claims rose by 3,000 to 241,000 in the seven days stretching from June 11 to June 17. New applications for benefits have registered less than 300,000 for 120 straight weeks, the longest streak since the early 1970s. The more accurate four-week average of new claims, meanwhile, edged up by 1,500 to 244,750. In May the monthly average fell to a 44-year low. The number of people already collecting unemployment checks - 1.94 million - totaled less than 2 million for the 10th straight week. The leading economic index climbed 0.3% in May and offered further proof the US continues to grow at a steady clip. A measure of current conditions rose 0.1%. A lagging index increased by the same amount. The LEI is a weighted gauge of 10 indicators designed to signal business-cycle peaks and valleys.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12.74 points or 0.06 percent to 21,397.29, S&P 500 edged lower by 1.11 points or 0.05 percent to 2,434.50, while Nasdaq added 2.74 points or 0.04 percent to 6,236.69.

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