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Stocks open lower as unemployment claims rise

NEW YORK (AP) - Stocks are down sharply after the government reported a rise in new unemployment claims and a jump in the trade deficit.
The Labor Department said new applications for unemployment benefits rose by 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000 for the week ending March 5. Analysts had expected claims to rise by 12,000.
The rise comes after applications fell to their lowest level in nearly three years in the previous week.
Separately, the Commerce Department said the trade deficit increased 15.1 percent to $46.3 billion in January. Exports rose 2.7 percent to an all-time high of $167.7 billion. But imports rose a faster 5.2 percent to $214.1 billion. That reflected a big jump in America's foreign oil bill, underscoring concerns that surging oil prices could derail the economic recovery.


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