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U.S. stock benchmarks Thursday morning kicked off trading lower, amid mounting signs of sluggish global growth prospects, and as investors reacted to a wave of corporate quarterly results. The Dow Jones Industrial Average [: DJIA] fell 170 points, or 0.7%, at 25,222, the S&P 500 index slumped 0.6% at 2,715, while the Nasdaq Composite Index retreated 0.9% at 7,308. For the week, the Dow is on pace to post a weekly gain of 1.3%, the S&P 500 is set for a 5-session climb of 0.9%, while Nasdaq was set to advance 1.5%, as of Wednesday's close. In corporate news, SunTrust Banks Inc. and BB&T Corp. announced they will combine in an all-stock merger of equals valued at around $66 billion, creating the sixth-largest U.S. bank based on assets and deposits. Separately, Shares of Twitter Inc. were down after the firm issued a downbeat outlook for the current quarter. In economic news, the number of Americans applying for jobless benefits fell in the week ended Feb. 2 by 19,000 to 234,000, above economists expectations of 225,000. Meanwhile, the U.S. dollar, as gauged by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index , was extending a six-day advance, buttressed by concerns about the health of the eurozone economy and weakness in the British pound , which has been buffeted by Brexit uncertainty. Looking ahead, investors await remarks from At 9:30 a.m. Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida, who was set to speak at the Czech National Bank and Czech Economic Society academic seminar at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Market Pulse Stories are Rapid-fire, short news bursts on stocks and markets as they move. Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news.