Stocks sink after weak jobs report; oil drops

By MATTHEW CRAFT | June 23, 2011 | 9:59 AM EDT

Trader Gerard Farco works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, June 22, 2011. A downbeat assessment of the U.S. economy from the Federal Reserve hit global stocks Thursday, June 23, while the euro faltered ahead of a meeting of EU leaders where Greece's debt troubles are likely to dominate talks.(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are opening sharply lower after the government reported an unexpected jump in claims for unemployment benefits.

The number of people applying for unemployment rose to 429,000 last week, more than expected. It's the latest sign that hiring has weakened from earlier this year.

Oil prices fell 4 percent after the International Energy Agency said 60 million barrels of oil would be released from reserves to make up for the loss of Libyan exports. That sent energy stocks like Exxon Mobil Corp. sharply lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average is down 157 points, or 1.3 percent, at 11,950 in early trading Thursday.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index is down 17 points, or 1.4 percent, at 1,269. The Nasdaq is down 36 points, or 1.3 percent, at 2,633.