NEW YORK, May 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday after data showed more than 2.4 million Americans had filed for unemployment benefits last week.
Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 32.55 points, or 0.13 percent, to 24,543.35. The S&P 500 was down 3.81 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,967.80. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 3.10 points, or 0.03 percent, to 9,372.67.
In the week ending May 16, U.S. initial jobless claims, a rough way to measure layoffs, came in at 2.438 million, the Department of Labor reported Thursday. The previous week's level was revised down from 2.981 million to 2.687 million.
Over the past nine weeks, more than 38 million Americans have filed unemployment insurance claims, as the economy continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minutes released Wednesday from the Federal Reserve's April meeting demonstrated deep concern about the economy.
"Participants judged that the effects of the coronavirus outbreak and the ongoing public health crisis would continue to weigh heavily on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term and would pose considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term," the minutes said.
U.S. equities closed higher on Wednesday with the Dow up more than 360 points, bolstered by solid gains in the energy sectors.