US Stocks Lower Thursday

(AP) -- U.S. stocks moved broadly lower in early trading Thursday, led by a slide in financial and energy stocks as the price of oil and other commodities fell. Investors were poring over the latest batch of company earnings and economic news, including government data indicating that orders for long-lasting manufactured goods fell more than expected last month.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 79 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,423 as of 10:26 a.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,026. The Nasdaq composite dropped 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,752. The S&P 500 is on course for its first weekly loss in five weeks. U.S. stock markets will be closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.

BIG DECLINER: Natural gas producer Williams Companies was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500 index. The company fell 84 cents, or 5.2 percent, to $15.42.

ROCKY PATCH: Several mining companies were down in early trading. Freeport-McMoRan fell lost 50 cents, or 5.1 percent, to $9.25, while Range Resources fell $1.26, or 4 percent, to $29.92.

BAD RUN: Sportsman's Warehouse sank 10.2 percent after the company released a disappointing forecast. The stock shed $1.40 to $12.39.

OPTIMISTIC: Shares in Office Depot and Staples vaulted on mounting optimism that a court will allow the office supply competitors to combine even though regulators oppose the deal. Office Depot gained 60 cents, or 9.5 percent, to $6.95. Staples climbed 67 cents, or 6.7 percent, to $10.72.

ECONOMIC BELLWETHER: The Commerce Department said that orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods fell 2.8 percent in February, with a key category that tracks business investment dropping by the largest amount since December.

OVERSEAS MARKETS: Stock markets in Europe were posting sizable losses. Germany's DAX dropped 1.5 percent, while France's CAC-40 fell 2.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 was down 1.5 percent. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 1.3 percent. Sydney's S&P ASX 200 fell 1.1 percent, while Seoul's Kospi was off 0.5 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 shed 0.6 percent.

ENERGY: After a period of sustained gains, oil prices were headed lower again as concerns over excess supplies returned following the latest U.S. stockpiles data. Benchmark U.S. crude was down $1.06, or 2.7 percent, to $38.73 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oils, was down 86 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $39.61 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.87 percent from 1.88 percent late Wednesday. The euro was down to $1.1156 from $1.1183, while the dollar rose to 112.45 yen from 112.39.

(KA)