US STOCKS-Wall St edges lower on economic woes; Fed in focus

* US data shows hiring by employers remains weak

* Focus turns to central bankers gathering in Jackson Hole

* 3PAR accepts raised bid from Dell

* Stocks down: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to early afternoon)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, Aug 26 (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stocks (Read more about the stock market today. ) edged lower on
Thursday as persistent concerns about the economy offset data
showing U.S. weekly jobless claims fell more than expected.

Wall Street rose soon after the data, but another part of
the Labor Department report regarded as better reflecting
trends rose to a nine-month high, suggesting the labor market
still remains pressured. For details, see [ID:nN26186848]

Investors were also cautious about making bets on stocks
before a meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where central
bankers from around the world have converged to assess the
darkening economic outlook.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a speech on Friday
is likely to discuss the uncertain prospects for the economy
but isn’t expected to give many clues about whether the U.S.
central bank will pump more cash into the economy to keep the
recovery going. [ID:nN25199098].

“Bernanke will try to keep everyone calm as usual … but
the fact is there are no bulls out there and everyone is just
too bearish (to be calmed),” said Keith Springer, president of
Capital Financial Advisory Services in Sacramento, California.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: ) was down 30.66
points, or 0.30 percent, at 10,029.40. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: ) was down 2.61 points, or 0.25 percent, at
1,052.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: ) was down 8.68
points, or 0.41 percent, at 2,132.86.

Healthcare and consumer staple shares were the biggest
losers among the S&P 500 sectors. On the blue-chip Dow, Kraft
Foods (KFT.N: ) was among the biggest biggest percentage
decliners, falling 0.8 percent to $29.35.

Major indexes are off about 6.5 percent from their Aug. 9
high because investors have grown concerned about the sharp
slowdown in the economy and some even fear a double-dip
recession as data shows deteriorating growth.

Reflecting concerns about the economy, the percentage of
individual investors who expect stocks to rise in coming months
fell to the lowest level since March 2009.

The American Association of Individual Investors’
measurement of stock market sentiment showed the day’s Bull
reading was at 20.7, down from 30.1 last week and at the lowest
level since March 2009 when it was 18.9. Bears, however, rose 7
points on the week to 49.5. In March of 2009, Bears hit 70.3.

In merger news, data storage company 3PAR Inc (PAR.N: )
accepted a sweetened bid from Dell Inc (DELL.O: ), trumping a bid
from Hewlett-Packard Co (HPQ.N: ).

Shares of Dell rose 0.6 percent to $11.85 and HP, a Dow
component, was up 0.6 percent at $38.47. [ID:nN26185803] 3PAR
shares dipped 2.4 percent to $26.11.

Birinyi Associates lowered its year-end estimate for the
S&P 500 to 1,225 from 1,325, noting there is an increasing
chance that the market could get stuck in a trading range.
(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Wall St edges lower on economic woes; Fed in focus