Stocks trade flat after mixed earnings reports
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
NEW YORK — Stock indexes were flat in midday trading Thursday after a surprise jump in applications for unemployment benefits and mixed earnings reports from large U.S. companies.
First-time applications for unemployment rose to 454,000, the highest level since late October. Economists had expected the number to rise to 407,000. Snowstorms in some parts of the country forced companies to lay off workers, economists said.
Caterpillar Inc. rose 0.8 percent after its fourth-quarter profit quadrupled on strong global demand for mining and construction equipment. Time Warner Cable Inc. gained 2 percent after raising its dividend thanks to a 22 percent jump in income last quarter.
AT&T Inc. fell 3 percent, the largest drop in the 30 companies that make up the Dow Jones industrial average. The company reported that new wireless contracts fell to the lowest level in more than five years.
Procter & Gamble Co., the maker of consumer products like Tide detergent, fell 2.9 percent after it failed to meet analyst's expectations.
The Dow Jones industrial average inched up 2 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 11,987. The index broke through the 12,000 mark yesterday for the first time since June 2008 before slipping in the late afternoon.
The broader Standard & Poor's 500 was flat at 1,296. The last time the index closed above 1,300 was Aug. 28, 2008.
The Nasdaq composite gained 9, or 0.3 percent, to 2,748.
A government-appointed panel said Thursday that the financial crisis could have been avoided if Wall Street executives and government officials had properly managed risks. The panel said that the Bush and Clinton administrations, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner share responsibility for allowing the crisis to happen. The panel's conclusions had been leaked ahead of its formal report and were widely expected on Wall Street.
After the market closed Wednesday, Netflix Inc. reported that its subscriber base rose above 20 million customers. The stock jumped 14 percent to $208. Netflix has quadrupled over the last 12 months.
Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. will report earnings after the market closes.
Bond prices fell slightly, sending yields higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.44 percent from 3.41 percent late Wednesday.
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