An early rally on Thursday faded late in the session. Health care stocks led the markets lower on concerns that the new federal budget could reduce payments for Medicare services.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 88.81 points to 7182.08. The Nasdaq composite index lost 33.96 points to 1391.47 and the S&P 500 stock index was down 12.07 points to 752.83.
The Labor Department reported that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits rose in the past week by 36,000 to 667,000. And, the number of people receiving benefits rose to a record 5.1 million.
Reports that OPEC is considering even more cuts in oil product to respond to declining global consumption sent prices higher on Thursday. Crude closed at $45.22 a barrel, up $2.72.