Stocks fell on Thursday as an unexpected rise in jobless claims and a bleak outlook from technology bellwether Cisco underscored concerns about sluggish economic growth.

Cisco Systems Inc fell 9.4 percent to $21.48 a day after Chief Executive John Chambers noted unusual uncertainty about the economy and the computer networking giant forecast revenues below estimates. On Thursday, at least two brokerages cut their ratings on the stock.

In the latest economic report, the number of people filing new claims for unemployment insurance rose to its highest level in close to six months. The unexpected increase was a fresh signal of a weak labor market, analysts said.

Clearly the pace of claims and layoffs is up ... so the natural conclusion is that the labor market is deteriorating further, said Pierre Ellis, senior economist at Decision Economics in New York.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 34.05 points, or 0.33 percent, at 10,344.78. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 5.27 points, or 0.48 percent, at 1,084.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> fell 18.65 points, or 0.84 percent, at 2,189.98.

The S&P 500 fell below its 50-day moving average of 1,088, a key technical support. A break below technical levels could exacerbate a sell-off.

On Wednesday, all three major indexes recorded their worst percentage declines in more than a month, erasing gains for the year in the aftermath of a gloomier outlook from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

General Motors Co posted its biggest quarterly profit in six years on Thursday, a day ahead of its expected initial public offering filing.

Kohl's Corp fell 4 percent to $45.85 after the company reported better-than-expected earnings, but its forecast fell short of expectations.

American International Group Inc has started negotiations with potential investors to sell stakes in its Asian life insurance business AIA ahead of a planned IPO, sources said. The stock was off 2.1 percent at $37.06.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)