Stocks were declining and the dollar was gaining on Thursday after the weekly report on unemployment claims showed that the number of workers continuing to claim benefits rose to a new, 26-year high. There was some good news on the retail front; sales rose 1.0% in January after sharp declines the previous two mionths.


News that Congress and the White House had reached agreement on a $789.5 billion stimulus package last night wasn't able to help markets in Asia or Europe, and it hasn't been able to provide a boost for U.S. shares so far either. A final vote is expected to be taken tomorrow on the measure.


In recent trade, the DOW was moving lower by 1.41% while the broader S&P 500 was declining by 1.28%. Technology was the best performer on the day; the NASDAQ was off by just 0.27%. The dollar was gaining on the day against the higher-yielding euro, pound and Australian dollar and was well off its lows of the day against the yen. Crude has continued its recent plunge, falling an additional 1.56% on the day while gold gained for a fourth day this week, this time with a smaller 0.31% gain.