NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged lower in early trading Thursday as more positive news on the economy led investors to anticipate that the Federal Reserve is getting closer to reducing its economic stimulus program.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits dropped to the lowest in nearly six years last week, and the U.S. economy grew at a robust 3.6 percent annual rate from July through September, the fastest since early 2012.

A record-setting run for the stock market has stalled in December as several signs of strength in the U.S. economy have emerged. That has led investors to anticipate that the Fed is getting ready to pull back on its huge bond-buying program, which has been supporting financial markets. Investors will get more insight on the economy Friday when the government releases its monthly jobs report.

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