US stocks steady after solid jobless claims

US stocks were little changed in early trade Thursday, stabilizing after the prior day’s sell-off, following a solid report on US jobless claims.

About 35 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 16,784.38, down 20.33 points (0.12 percent).

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.41 (0.02 percent) at 1,945.75, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 4.68 (0.11 percent) to 4,426.77.

The Labor Department reported that new claims for US unemployment insurance benefits, a sign of the pace of layoffs, dropped by 8,000 last week. The agency on Friday will release its closely watched monthly jobs report for September.

US stocks fell sharply Wednesday amid concerns about the global economic outlook and the Ebola virus.

Energy stocks retreated as oil prices fell again. Dow member Chevron shed 1.0 percent and Marathon Oil lost 1.6 percent, while oil services company Weatherford International dropped 2.8 percent.

Darden Restaurants, which owns the Olive Garden chain, gained 1.0 percent after saying it expects earnings for its current quarter to come in at the high end of its forecast. September same-restaurant sales rose at six of the company’s seven brands.

Digital television provider DirecTV advanced 0.9 percent after announcing a deal with the National Football League to expand and extend its broadcasts of US football. Terms were not disclosed.

Dow Chemical dipped 0.5 percent following news it was marketing three units for divestment. Deals are expected by the end of 2014 and could yield more than $2 billion.

Spice maker McCormick rose 1.2 percent as third-quarter earnings rose 18 percent following a 15 percent sales increase in China. The company raised its full-year profit forecast.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.42 percent from 2.40 percent Wednesday, while the 30-year advanced to 3.13 percent from 3.11 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.