Stocks slightly lower; oil prices cut early losses – USA TODAY

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U.S. stocks fell early Thursday as investors parsed commentary from the ECB after its policy meeting and as OPEC kept output levels unchaged. Video provided by TheStreet Newslook

U.S. stocks were slightly lower in afternoon trading on news that OPEC failed to seal a deal on oil production.

Markets were also reacting to the European Central Bank leaving interest rates at current levels and private employers in the U.S. creating slightly more jobs than expected in May.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down about 10 points, or 0.1%. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index is down 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite is off 0.1%.

So far Thursday, most of the news investors were watching came in as expected, offering little, if any, surprise factor to markets. The ECB was expected to stand pat and the 173,000 jobs created last month by private employers, according to payroll processor ADP, were basically right in line with the 170,000 estimate.

Wall Street is also digesting news that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) could not strike a deal on capping or freezing daily oil production. The OPEC news, while not totally unexpected, initially hit oil prices as a lack of a supply cut or cap does little to help end the global oil glut. But oil pared its losses after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that U.S. crude oil inventories fell by 1.4 million barrels in the week ending May 27.

U.S.-produced crude was up 0.4% to $49.20 a barrel after being down as low as $47.97 earlier. Last week crude prices topped $50 per barrel for the first time since October.

Next up for Wall Street is the all-important May jobs report set for release Friday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Analysts are looking for 160,000 new jobs in May. The jobs report, of course, has key implications for the Federal Reserve, which has hinted to financial markets that the first quarter-point rate hike of 2016 is likely in coming months if data on jobs and the economy keep rolling in steady.

“Today is all about Draghi, the ECB meeting, and the OPEC meeting, while tomorrow will be all about the employment report,” Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James, told clients in a research note.

Stocks in Europe were trading lower after the ECB rate announcement. The broad Stoxx Europe 600 was off 0.2%, the DAX in Germany was down 0.2% and the CAC 40 in Paris was down 0.5%.

Equities were mixed in Asia. Japan’s Nikkei 225 slid 2.3%. But other markets were mostly higher. Stocks in Hong Kong rose 0.5%. Shares of mainland China’s Shanghai composite closed up 0.4%.

Shares of Apple are in the spotlight on Thursday following a downgrade from Goldman Sachs. Goldman is cutting its price target and profit estimates for 2016. Newslook

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