Wall Street Seesaws Amid Volatile Oil Trade; Weak Data weighs

U.S. Stocks fluctuate; Weak Data, Poor Earnings WeighWall Street struggled for direction Thursday morning as oil prices seesawed and weak U.S. economic data and poor corporate earnings hit the markets.

At 9:37 a.m. in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1%. The S&P 500 index dropped 0.4%, while the NASDAQ 100 index slid 0.6%.

Oil prices erased early gains. U.S. crude futures were trading at $31.99, down 0.9% at 8:29 a.m.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 285,000 for the week ended January 30, the Department of Labor reported.

Another report on Thursday showed that the productivity of U.S. businesses declined at a three-percent annual pace in the fourth quarter, marking the biggest drop in almost two years.

Weak U.S. economic data are fueling investor hopes that the Federal Reserve might decelerate the pace of rate hikes this year.

Traders were also awaiting a report on factory orders for December, which is due at 10:00 a.m.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 closed sharply higher on Wednesday. The Dow gained 1.1% to 16,336.66, and the S&P 500 rose 0.5% to 1,912,53. Meanwhile, the NASDAQ 100 ended down 0.5% at 4,171.97.

European markets were trading roughly flat on Thursday. The FTSE was up 0.4%, while Germany’s DAX was down 0.8% and France’s CAC 40 was in negative territory at 0.5%.

GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) plummeted 15% to $9.07. The action camera company guided for downbeat results for the current quarter after swinging to a loss in the most recent quarter. The company’s latest cube-shaped camera didn’t sell well at Christmas.

Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) tumbled 12% to $102.00. The upscale apparel company known for “Polo” and other brands trailed market expectations on its fiscal third-quarter sales and trimmed its full-year forecast.

Philip Morris International Inc. (NYSE:PM) retreated one percent to $88.99. The world’s largest publicly traded tobacco company lagged behind fourth-quarter revenue expectations. The seller of the “Marlboro” brand said it anticipates international cigarette volume, excluding China and the U.S., to drop two percent to 2.5%.

ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) inched down 0.9% to $38.28. The Houston, Texas-based company became the first U.S. oil giant to cut its quarterly dividend to preserve cash in the face of the continuous slump in crude prices.