- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2010

UPDATED:

NEW YORK — The stock market regained some ground Thursday after sliding on concerns about jobs and heavy debt in Greece.

The market pared its losses and major stock indexes fell less than 1 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell about 75 points after being down 188 earlier. At the same time, Treasury prices remained higher as investors sought safer investments.

An unexpected rise in first-time claims for unemployment insurance raised concerns that the labor market will worsen. Meanwhile, the possibility of downgrades of Greece’s debt is fanning worries that financial troubles there will spread to other countries. The euro again fell, touching a nine-month low against the dollar.

The Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose by 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Economists polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast a drop in claims.

It was the second straight week that claims rose unexpectedly. High unemployment remains one of the biggest obstacles to a sustained economic recovery. The Labor Department’s monthly report on employment will be released next week.

Trading in the United States has been choppy in recent weeks because of uneasiness about the economy. Global markets retreated earlier this month because traders were worried about Greece’s debt problems. The market’s drop early in the week, a rebound and the latest slide signal that investors are waiting for clearer information on the direction of the economy.

Justin Golden, a strategist at Macro Risk Advisors in New York, said there is an undercurrent of worry about long-term issues such as debt in Greece. The presence of the concerns means it doesn’t take much to rattle investors.

“It’s a statement of how fragile the markets really are,” Mr. Golden said.

In late afternoon trading, the Dow fell 75.04, or 0.7 percent, to 10,299.12. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 5.25, or 0.5 percent, to 1,099.99. The Nasdaq composite index fell 8.14, or 0.4 percent, to 2,227.76.

Bond prices rose, pushing yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.65 percent from 3.70 percent late Wednesday.

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