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A trader on the New York Stock Exchange as the markets recorded a first new year loss since 2008Getty Images / Getty Images

Stocks fell sharply on Thursday, with Wall Street recording its first negative start to a year since 2008, as a set of better-than-expected economic reports failed to move investors.The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unofficially down 135 points, with General Electric leading blue-chip losses.The S&P 500 declined almost 1 percent, with energy the hardest hit of the index's 10 major industry sectors, all of which were in the red. The Nasdaq also lost ground.

A Labor Department report said applications for unemployment benefits fell by 2,000 to 339,000 last week.Separate data from the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index came in better than expected in December.