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U.S. stocks struggle near record highs amid earnings deluge - - Wall Street struggled in mixed trade on Thursday as all three major indices hovered near record highs and investors digested a deluge of company earnings and mixed economic data.

At 11:34AM ET (16:34GMT), the Dow Jones gained 40 points, or 0.20%, while both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite slipped less than a point, or 0.01%.

Thursday is the busiest day for the fourth quarter reporting season as 39 S&P firms release their numbers.

Among blue-chips, shares of Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) traded slightly lower as the equipment maker gave a downbeat guidance for 2017 profit.

Shares of AT&T (NYSE:T) managed to trade flat after the telecom produced quarterly results in line with expectations.

In other notable moves outside the Dow, eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) jumped nearly 7% in pre-market trade as the online retailer reported strong holiday sales and gave an outlook for 2017 sales that beat consensus.

Biogen (NASDAQ:BIIB) jumped nearly 4% despite a mixed report and a guidance that came in under forecasts. Some observers suggested that the outlook seemed reasonable if its plan to spin off its hemophilia business is factored into the equation.

Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) gained nearly 3% as the media company beat estimates and announced a 2-for-1 stock split, a dividend increase of 15 percent, and an increase in its stock buyback program to $12 billion.

On the downside, Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) tumbled more than 5% as net income halved on the back of multiple legal challenges.

Similarly, Ford Motor (NYSE:F) sank nearly 3% on its forecast for 2017.

After the close, Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) and Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) are on tap.

In M&A activity, U.S. healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) will acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion Ltd (SIX:ATLN) in a $30 billion all-cash deal that includes spinning off Actelion's research and development pipeline.

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) were under watch as the Wall Street Journal reported possibility of a tie-up, though Reuters' sources said no proposal had been made.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims registered a larger-than-expected increase, though they remained far from the 300,000 level that would cause the alarms to go off and the four-week moving average hit its lowest level for since November 1973.

Markit's preliminary data for activity in the service sector also gave good news with its fastest rate of expansion at the start of 2017 since November 2015.

New home sales in the U.S., however, gave a negative read on the real estate market as they plunged 10.4% in December.

Meanwhile, oil prices were sharply higher on Thursday, bouncing back from the prior session's losses as market players embraced riskier assets despite another big jump in U.S. oil inventories.

Supporting prices was a report that more than 4 million barrels of Venezuelan crude and fuels are sitting in tankers anchored in the Caribbean sea, unable to reach their final destination because state-run PDVSA cannot pay for hull cleaning, inspections, and other port services.

U.S. crude futures jumped 2.20% to $53.91 by 11:37AM ET (16:37GMT), while Brent oil surged 2.41% to $56.41. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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