Stocks in early slide

Wall Street struggles as investors show caution after the previous session's 514-point loss on the Dow.

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By staff

NEW YORK( -- Stocks struggled Thursday morning as investors eyed a weekly jobless claims report in the aftermath of the previous session's big selloff.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 0.5% in the early going. The Standard & Poor's 500 (SPX) index fell 0.4% and the Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 0.8%. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq the previous session at five-year lows.

Stocks had been on both sides of unchanged in the first 20 minutes of the session, as investors eyed the weekly jobless claims report, but also scooped up select stocks hit over the last few days.

Fears of a global recession slammed Wall Street on Wednesday. The Dow finished the session down 514 points - its seventh-worst point loss ever.

The glum mood, sparked by weak corporate profits and falling oil prices, hit global stocks. Major markets in Asia dropped. Japan's Nikkei finished the session 2.5% lower. European shares also fell in Thursday afternoon trading.

The Labor Department's weekly report on jobless claims gave investors another reason to be nervous. Claims rose 15,000, to 478,000, for the week ended Oct. 18, which was worse than expected. A consensus of economists surveyed by had expected claims to rise to 465,000.

RealtyTrac, an online marketer of foreclosed properties, added to the market malaise Thursday with a report showing that more than 81,000 homes were foreclosed in September.

Corporate results: Stocks to watch included (AMZN, Fortune 500), which warned that full-year revenue wouldn't meet forecasts.

JetBlue (JBLU) announced a third-quarter loss of $4 million, or 2 cents per share, but still managed to beat analyst expectations. AirTran Holdings (AAI) also reported a loss, of $107 million, or 91 cents per share, which it blamed on fuel costs.

US Airways (LCC, Fortune 500) is also expected to report before the opening bell.

The drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY, Fortune 500) said its third-quarter profit tripled to $2.6 billion, or 46 cents per share, beating expectations on the rising sales of wound care business. The drugmaker Eli Lilly (LLY, Fortune 500) blamed a $1.5 billion charge for a settlement related to its top-selling drug Zyprexa for its loss of $465 million, or 43 cents per share, in the third quarter.

Dow Chemical (DOW, Fortune 500) said its third-quarter profit edged up 6% to $428 million, or 46 cents per share, as price hikes offset the soaring costs of raw materials and energy.

Economy: At 10 a.m. ET, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform will hold a hearing on Capitol Hill titled "The Role of Federal Regulators in the Financial Crisis."

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, former Treasury Secretary John Snow, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox were expected to testify on the roles and responsibilities of federal regulators in the current financial crisis.

Oil and currency: Hard-hit oil prices were practically unchanged, edging up 2 cents to $66.77 a barrel. The dollar rose against the euro and the British pound, but slipped versus the yen. To top of page

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