European stocks fell broadly because of concerns that Italy or Spain may need help from the European Union.
The U.S. government said before the market opened that the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits for the first time edged only slightly lower last week. Concerns about the economy have sent stocks mainly lower over the past two weeks.
Thursday is another volatile day on Wall Street. The Dow is down 150 points, or 1.3 percent, to 11,750 in early trading. The S&P 500 is down 19, or 1.5 percent, to 1,242. The Nasdaq is down 41, or 1.5 percent, to 2,652.