Stocks Ended Lower on Home Sales

U.S. stocks squandered early gains to end lower on Thursday, after new-home sales unexpectedly declined last month. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 22.33 points, or 0.18%, to 12,734.63. The S&P 500 lost 7.62 points, or 0.57%, to 1,318.43. The Nasdaq Composite retreated 13.03 points, or 0.46%, to 2,805.28.

Sales fell 2.2% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The decline brings sales back to their level in October, wiping out a gain in November, when sales had risen to their highest level since April.

Starbucks Corp.’s fiscal first-quarter profit increased 10 percent as the coffee company added stores, customers and new products.  It earned $382.1 million, or 50 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Jan. 1. That’s up from $346.6 million, or 45 cents per share, in the same quarter last year. Its total revenue increased 16 percent to $3.44 billion.

Motorola Mobility Holdings swung to a loss in the fourth quarter, mostly on larger losses in its mobile device business. For the period ended Dec. 31, Motorola Mobility reported a net loss of $80 million, or 27 cents a share, compared with net income of $80 million, or 27 cents a share, for the same period the previous year.

Crude-oil futures inched higher Thursday, falling short of the $100-a-barrel mark. Crude futures for March delivery rose 30 cents, or 0.3%, to end at $99.70 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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