U.S. Stocks Inch Higher on Jobless Report, Earnings

By Dow Jones Business News, 

By Chris Dieterich and Saumya Vaishampayan

U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday after a disappointing reading on the housing market contrasted with an upbeat report on jobless claims.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added four points, or 0.1%, to 17091.

The S&P 500 gained one point, or 0.1%, to 1987 after briefly hitting an all-time intraday high of 1990.20.

The Nasdaq Composite Index fell four points, or 0.1%, to 4470.

Stocks opened higher after a report showed that Americans filed the fewest applications for unemployment benefits last week since February 2006. Initial jobless claims fell to 284,000, well below expectations for 305,000.

But stocks pared gains after new-home sales fell 8.1% in June from May, well below expectations. The May reading was also revised significantly lower.

Investors also focused on quarterly corporate results. Early reports have been mostly positive; analysts have revised higher their estimates for earnings increases among S&P 500 companies, now expecting a gain of 5.6% versus 4.9% previously, according to FactSet.

Facebook jumped 5.5% after the social network reported that profit more than doubled and revenue topped estimates late on Wednesday. Facebook's strong report showed that the company was successfully navigating the shift to mobile advertising as it continues to add users.

Caterpillar fell 3% after earnings topped analysts' expectations, but revenue came up short. The company pointed to weaker sales in China, Africa and the Middle East and tightened the range of its revenue estimates.

Results "in general have been great," said Kent Engelke, chief economic strategist at Capitol Securities Management. "More importantly, we're also having optimistic forward-looking statements" on earnings growth, he said.

Ford Motor rose 1.4% after the car maker beat earnings expectations, reporting strength in North America, Europe and Asia.

General Motors slumped 2.9% after its profit sank 80% as the auto maker was hit by recalls.

Markit's preliminary reading on U.S. factory activity in July came in at 56.3, down from 57.3 a month earlier. Separately, manufacturers located near the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank are due to post a July survey results on economic conditions.

A modest start for U.S. stocks followed gains overseas.

The Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.3%, buoyed by data showing that private-sector activity in the euro zone expanded faster than expected in July. The composite purchasing managers index for the region, which measures manufacturing and service-sector activity, rose to a three-month high of 54.

The Chinese manufacturing sector rose for the second month in a row in July, with the HSBC preliminary, or "flash," manufacturing PMI rising to 52 from 50.7 a month earlier, reaching an 18-month high. China's Shanghai Composite rose 1.3%, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.3%.

Under Armour Inc. added 9.4% after the company reported that strong footwear and apparel sales buoyed its second- quarter results, and the company again raised its outlook for full-year sales.

Qualcomm fell 7% after the wireless-tech company noted some worries about licensees in China, even as it lifted its full-year adjusted earnings outlook.

TripAdvisor slumped 10% after the online-travel website said its second-quarter profit missed the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

Write to Saumya Vaishampayan at saumya.vaishampayan@wsj.com and Chris Dieterich at christopher.dieterich@wsj.com

  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  Copyright (c) 2014 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

This article appears in: US Markets , Economy , International

Referenced Stocks: FB , UA

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