Stocks Waver after Jobless Claims, Mixed Earnings

U.S. stocks edged between narrow gains and losses in early trading on Thursday, as investors weigh mixed earnings results with a slight dip in claims for unemployment benefits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 50.56 points to 11,555.18. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 5.86 points to 1,215.74. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 2.25 points to 2,601.79.

New claims for unemployment benefits fell last week, according to a government report on Thursday that showed layoffs in recent weeks had dropped to levels last seen in April. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 403,000, the Labor Department said. Economists had forecast claims falling to 400,000.

split between the International Monetary Fund and the European Union is threatening to delay Greece’s next aid payment in another blow to European efforts to stem the debt crisis. Greece’s international creditors warn that a second rescue package tentatively agreed in July may not be enough to save the country from bankruptcy, but believe Athens should nevertheless get its next batch of bailout loans, according to a draft report obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

Global regulators published guidelines on Thursday to better monitor automated transactions while saying there was little hard evidence to justify reining in high-frequency trading.

Airlines reported a third-quarter loss of $140 million. Excluding the hedging losses and other one-time expenses, Southwest said Thursday it would have earned $122 million, or 15 cents per share — a penny better than analysts expected.

AT&T Inc. on Thursday reported a decline in the number of iPhones activated in its latest quarter. In the quarter, Dallas-based AT&T gained a net 384,000 subscribers on contract plans, excluding the effects of two minor acquisitions.

Cigarette maker Philip Morris International Inc. said Thursday that its third-quarter net income grew nearly 31 percent. It earned $2.38 billion, or $1.35 per share, for the period ended Sept. 30. That’s up from $1.82 billion, or 99 cents per share, a year ago.

Eli Lilly and Co.’s third-quarter net income fell 5 percent. Lilly reported net income of $1.24 billion, or $1.11 per share, in the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That’s down from $1.3 billion, or $1.18 per share, in last year’s third quarter. Revenue climbed 9 percent to a better-than-expected $6.15 billion.

Union Pacific Corp., the nation’s largest railroad, said Thursday its third-quarter earnings rose 16 percent. The company earned $904 million, or $1.85 per share between June and September. That’s up from $778 million, or $1.56 per share, a year ago. Revenue rose 16 percent to $5.1 billion.

Medical device maker Boston Scientific Corp. reported Thursday that its third-quarter profit fell 25 percent. Revenue fell to $1.87 billion from $1.92 billion. Sales of the devices fell to $503 million from $550 million in the most recent period.

AutoNation Inc., the nation’s largest auto dealership chain, said Thursday that its third-quarter profit rose 24 percent. Its net income rose to $70.7 million, or 48 cents per share, for the period that ended Sept. 30. That compares with $56.9 million, or 38 cents per share, a year earlier.

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