US stocks declined in early trade on Thursday despite positive jobs data as commodity prices declined on concerns that China may need to further tighten monetary policy to tame inflation.
The S&P 500 Index declined 6.35 points, or 0.51 percent, to trade at 1,275.32 at 9:45 a.m. EDT. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 44.57 points, or 0.38 percent, to trade at 11,780.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.75 percent.
China’s accelerating economy raised speculation over interest rate hike in an effort to cool inflationary pressure. Crude oil futures fell 2.10 percent to $88.95/barrel and gold futures declined 1.61 percent, while silver futures plunged 3.51 percent.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter after the fast-growing Asian giant's economy grew an average 10.6 percent in the first three quarters of 2010, while inflation remained high at 4.6 percent though it showed downward movement in December 2010.
The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims decreased by 37,000 to 404,000 for the week ended January 15 from the previous week's revised figure of 441,000, while economists expected 425,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims declined 4,000 to 411,750 from the previous week's revised average of 415,750.
On the earnings front, Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) shares advanced 0.61 percent after the company said its fourth quarter income from continuing operations increased to $867 million, or $0.43 per share, from $460 million, or $0.18 per share, for the same period a year ago.
Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) shares advanced 0.10 percent ahead of its quarterly results after the closing bell. Analysts, on average, polled by Thomson Reuters expect the search engine giant to report fourth quarter earnings per share of $8.09 from $6.79 last year.
Other companies including Advanced Micro Devices, Capital One Financial Corp, International Game Technology and Intuitive Surgical are also set to report their quarterly numbers after the closing bell.
On Wednesday, US stocks sold off as disappointing results from Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) dragged down the financial services sector, as the indices endured their worst one-day price drop since November.
The euro declined 0.16 percent to 1.3452 against the dollar while the greenback advanced 0.77 percent against the yen.
European stock markets are currently trading mixed with FTSE 100 down by 82.76 points, DAX30 down by 42.45 points and CAC 40 up by 1.61 points.