Thursday’s Mid-Day Movers: 3 Stories Driving Markets

U.S. stocks declined on Thursday afternoon. Underwhelming earnings fromUnitedHealth Group(NYSE:UNH) and eBay(NASDAQ:EBAY) weighed heavily on the markets, compounding concerns over an increase in initial unemployment claims and a less-than-thrilling business outlook survey.

At 12:25 p.m.:DJIA:-0.35%,S&P 500:-0.39%,NASDAQ:-0.90%.

Here are three stories making waves on Thursday afternoon:

1)Jobless Claims Rise: Should We Be Worried?The idea that the labor market recovery is losing steam is gaining more adherents. After the Labor Department’s Employment situation report showed that employers added just 88,000 workers to their payrolls last month, following the solid 268,000 added in February, last weeks unemployment data showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week.

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Although initial jobless claims increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 352,000, as the Labor Department said Thursday a figure broadly in line with economists expectations claims stayed near levels normally associated with average monthly job gains of more than 150,000. That fact helped allay concerns that the labor markets conditions were deteriorating, especially since the labor participation rate hit a new low for the recovery, and its lowest level since 1979, in March… (Read more.)

2) Business Outlook Remains Modest in April:Manufacturers responding to the Business Outlook Survey reported near steady business activity in April, begins the latest report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.The indicator for overall activity remained slightly positive this month, but other broad indicators were mixed.

The general conditions diffusion index for manufacturing conditions within the Philadelphia Federal Reserve district was 1.3 in April, slightly higher than the 2.0 reading registered in March. All told, 22 percent of firms reported increasing activity, while 21 percent of firms reported decreasing activity. Unfortunately, labor market conditions turn a turn for the worst, with the employment index posting its first negative reading (-6.8) in three months. Seventeen percent of firms reported a decrease in employment, while just 10 percent reported an increase. The workweek index remained negative (-12.9) for the fourth consecutive month… (Read more.)

3)Americans Are Raiding Retirement Accounts:The Federal Reserve has unleashed record amounts of liquidity into the financial system, but as many people know all too well, very little is making its way to Main Street. Amid stagnant wages and rising expenses, more Americans are raiding their retirement accounts.

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A recent analysis by Wells Fargo finds that a high number of workers are turning to their 401(NYSE:K) plans as a source of lending. The bank reported that in the fourth quarter of 2012, the number of people taking loans out from their 401(NYSE:K) surged 28 percent from a year earlier. Furthermore, the average new loan balance jumped 7 percent from $6,662 to $7,126 in the same period… (Read more.)

Don’t Miss: Jobless Claims Rise: Should We Be Worried?