By FRANCESCA LEVY
NEW YORK – Stocks are down sharply after the government reported a rise in new unemployment claims and a jump in the trade deficit.
The Labor Department said new applications for unemployment benefits rose by 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000 for the week ending March 5. Analysts had expected claims to rise by 12,000.
Separately, the Commerce Department said the trade deficit increased 15.1 percent to $46.3 billion in January, as higher oil prices drove up imports.
Crude is down $1.83 to $102.55 a barrel as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi looks to recapture ground from rebels.
The Dow Jones industrial average is down 150.83, or 1.2 percent, to 12,062 The S&P 500 index is down 17.33, or 1.3 percent, to 1,302. The Nasdaq composite is down 39.24, or 1.4 percent, to 2,712.
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