* Weekly employment numbers rise more than expected
* GoPro slumps after revenue forecast falls below estimates
* Ralph Lauren falls after reporting decline in sales
* Dollar index falls to more than three-month low
* Dow up 0.08 pct, S&P down 0.16 pct, Nasdaq down 0.47 pct (Updates to open)
By Tanya Agrawal
Feb 4 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were lower on Thursday after weak economic data and a spate of poor corporate results heightened investors’ fears of a slowdown in the economy.
Data showed that the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week and nonfarm productivity fell in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in more than a year.
The numbers come before the keenly awaited monthly employment data released by the government on Friday.
“Right now you have a lot of seasonal adjustments related to the winter weather,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida about the economic data.
“Spring is when most firms really step up their hiring and the housing market really gets going.”
Fourth-quarter S&P 500 earnings are expected to have fallen 4.4 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Oil prices rallied and added to the previous day’s 7 percent gain as the dollar weakened after weak U.S. data and comments from a Fed policymaker signaled that further rate hikes could be delayed.
The dollar index which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, hit 96.55, its lowest level in more than three months.
Data due at 10 a.m. ET is expected to show a 2.8 percent drop in factory orders in December after a 0.2 percent dip in November.
At 9:56 a.m. ET (1456 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 13.77 points, or 0.08 percent, at 16,350.43, the S&P 500 was down 3.06 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,909.47 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 21.12 points, or 0.47 percent, at 4,483.12.
Microsoft’s 1.3 percent fall weighed the most on the S&P and Nasdaq, while Home Depot’s 1.8 percent fall dragged on the Dow.
Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, with the consumer discretionary index’s 0.93 percent fall leading the decliners.
Stocks globally have had a rough start to 2016, hurt by tepid U.S. growth, falling oil prices and concern that the world faces a China-led slowdown. The S&P 500 has fallen 6.4 percent this year.
UBS cut its year-end target for the S&P 500 index to 2,175 points from 2,275 on Thursday and trimmed its earnings estimate for S&P 500 companies to $119 from $126 on weaker U.S. growth prospects.
However, chances of future interest rate increases this year are steadily fading.
Fed policymaker William Dudley said in an interview on Wednesday that monetary conditions had tightened since the Fed raised rates and that rate-setters would have to take this into account.
The federal fund futures market indicates traders no longer expect a Fed hike this year.
Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren and Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, voting members on the Fed policy-making panel, are scheduled to speak on Thursday.
GoPro slumped 13.5 percent to $9.26 after the company forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts’ estimates.
Ralph Lauren was down 16.4 percent at $96.31 after the retailer reported a decline in sales.
Viacom jumped 5.4 to $47.07 after chairman Sumner Redstone stepped down from his executive role at CBS, igniting speculation that the aging mogul will step down from his role at Viacom too.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,739 to 1,028. On the Nasdaq, 1,359 issues rose and 982 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 4 new 52-week highs and 7 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 9 new highs and 34 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Don Sebastian)