Stocks Ended Mixed, Europe in Play

U.S. stocks ended a choppy day of trading mixed Thursday after reports that European leaders remain split over how to fend off a larger financial crisis in the region. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.16 points, or 0.3%, to 11,541.78. The S&P 500 gained 5.51 points, or 0.5%, to 1,215.39. The Nasdaq Composite lost 5.42 points, or 0.2%, to 2,598.62.

Ignoring two days of riots outside parliament, Greek lawmakers passed a deeply resented new austerity bill Thursday, caving in to the demands of international creditors in order to avoid a national bankruptcy. The austerity measures won 154-144 in the 300-member parliament despite dissent from a prominent Socialist lawmaker who voted against a key article of the bill. The vote was expected to pave the way for a vital euro8 billion ($11 billion) payout from creditors within weeks so Greece can stay solvent.

Europe’s leaders face huge expectations to come up with nothing less than a grand plan to save the euro — and protect the global economy from another recession — when they meet for three days of emergency talks this weekend.

The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage was nearly unchanged this week after rising sharply last week. Freddie Mac said Thursday that the rate on the 30-year loan edged down to 4.11 percent from 4.12 percent last week.

Ford Motor Co said its new four-year contract with the United Auto Workers union will increase its costs less than 1 percent annually, with higher bonuses offset by newly won flexibility in work rules.

Microsoft has beaten earnings estimates during its last several quarters. Microsoft posted $17.37 billion on revenue and $0.68 EPS. Revenue was expected at $17.26B and EPS was right on target.

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