Stocks Closed Mixed with Dow Higher

U.S. stocks closed an up-and-down session with two of the three major indexes higher on Thursday, following better-than-expected reports on home building and jobs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 64.25 points, or 0.54%, to 11,961.52. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 2.22 points, or 0.18%, to 1,267.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 7.76 points, or 0.293%, to 2,623.70.

Unemployment benefit applications fell to a seasonally adjusted 414,000, the Labor Department said. It was the second drop in three weeks and a positive sign that layoffs are slowing. Home construction rose last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000 units per year, the Commerce Department said.

Kroger Co. rang up double-digit jumps in first-quarter revenue and net income. Kroger said net income rose to $432.3 million, or 70 cents a share, up nearly 16 percent from $373.3 million, or 58 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 11 percent to $27.5 billion. Analysts expected earnings of 64 cents per share on $26.4 billion inrevenue.

Allstate Corp. said Thursday that severe weather drove up catastrophe losses to $2 billion so far in the second quarter. The home and auto insurer said that its pretax losses for May were about $600 million as a result of seven weather-related events. That’s in addition to the $1.4 billion in catastrophe losses the company previously announced for April, as a result of tornadoes that ripped through the South. The second quarter ends June 30.

Research In Motion Ltd. reported a drop in earnings for the first fiscal quarter on Thursday and cut its forecast for the current fiscal year. For the quarter ended May 28, Its net income came in at $695 million, or $1.33 per share, compared to net income of $769 million, or $1.38 per share, for the same period the previous year. Revenue grew by 16% to $4.9 billion.

Crude-oil futures edged higher Thursday as bargain-hunters came back to the market after a drop of nearly 5% in the previous session. Crude for July delivery added 14 cents, or 0.2%, to settle at $94.95 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Greece was wracked by political turmoil Thursday as the embattled prime minister faced down a party revolt over new austerity measures — a bitter dispute that forced the EU to hint at new loans so Greece can fend off a summer default.

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