The SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) was down 0.7% before Thursday’s opening bell after a report estimated weekly jobless claims rose above the key level 400,000.

The Labor Department said applications for jobless benefits climbed to 412,000 in the latest week as the figure came in higher than economists had expected.

The data made investors uneasy about the health of the job market, although claims often rise in the first week of the quarter.

“The pace of layoffs has slowed over the past six months and hiring is picking up,” Steven Wood, president of Insight Economics LLC, told Bloomberg. “The labor market is recovering and the recovery is gaining strength although it is still moderate.”

The S&P 500 ETF is up 4.5% so far this year.


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