Thursday, May 24, 2012
By Kaitlyn Kiernan and Tomi Kilgore
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK (Dow Jones)--U.S. stocks were flat early Thursday as investors shrugged off gains in European markets and a slight decline in jobless claims.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.8 point, or less than 0.1%, to 12495, after finishing slightly lower Wednesday after paring steep early losses. Standard & Poor's 500-stock index added 0.1 point, or less than 0.1%, to 1319 and Nasdaq 100 futures dropped 7.3 points, or 0.3%, to 2843.
Initial claims for jobless benefits declined 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000 in the latest week, marking the first time in three weeks that claims fell. The prior week's figure had been revised slightly higher from initial estimates.
In addition, durable goods grew by 0.2% in April, recovering from a steep drop in the prior month. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires had been expecting a 0.3% decline.
"We've got this ongoing trading range situation with the markets worried not only about what is happening in Europe with Greece, but also about the U.S. outlook," said Bruce Bittles, chief investment strategist at Robert W. Baird & Co. "It looks like it will be a difficult market for investors here, but the days have really been defined by the last hour of trading, so we'll see where we go."
Dow component Hewlett-Packard ran up 8.2% after the computer maker reported fiscal second-quarter earnings and revenue that exceeded analyst expectations, according to FactSet Research, and announced a restructuring plan that includes reducing its workforce by 8%, or approximately 27,000 employees.
Meanwhile, Facebook rose for a second day, adding 1.9% after wiping out 18% from its initial public offering price of $38 a share to begin the week.
European markets turned broadly higher as European leaders stressed Greece should remain in the euro zone, but didn't come to any new agreements on how to contain the debt crisis, now in its third year. Italy and France backed the issuance of euro-zone bonds, but Germany and others opposed them.
The Stoxx Europe 600 hiked up 0.8% after being down 0.3% at the intraday low on weak economic data. Preliminary data showed euro-zone business activity contracted in May at fastest rate in nearly three years. In addition, the German Ifo Business Climate Index for May fell well below expectations.
Asian markets were mostly lower, after a preliminary reading of manufacturing activity in China shrank further in May. China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.5% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.6%, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average edged up 0.1%.
Crude-oil futures added 0.8% to $90.58 a barrel, while gold futures climbed 1.3% to $1,567.90 an ounce. The U.S. dollar fell against both the euro and the yen.
NetApp erased 12% after the data-storage company provided a first-quarter earnings and revenue outlook that were below projections.
Pandora Media surged 18% after the Internet radio company reported a narrower-than-expected fiscal first-quarter loss and revenue that topped forecasts.
Tiffany dropped 8.9% after the high-end jewelry retailer reported fiscal first-quarter earnings that missed estimates, and lowered its full-year earnings and sales growth outlook.
Costco Wholesale ticked up 1.4% after the wholesale-club operator reported fiscal third-quarter results that beat estimates.
-By Kaitlyn Kiernan, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-3165; email@example.com; Twitter: @Kaitlyn_Kiernan
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 24, 2012 10:26 ET (14:26 GMT)