Stocks Held Flat at Start on Drop in Claims

U.S. stocks began Thursday near flat, after the Labor Department reported first-time claims for unemployment benefits declined unexpectedly last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 7.64 points to 13,183.28. The S&P 500 index was up 0.90 point at 1,403.12. The Nasdaq Composite rose 5.22 points to 3,016.47.

The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly fell last week, government data showed on Thursday, suggesting a modest improvement in the labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 361,000, the Labor Department said.

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in June to its lowest level since December 2010. The nation’s trade deficit narrowed 10.7% in June to $42.9 billion from $48.0 billion in May, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM) filed a formal restatement of its first-quarter results on Thursday to reflect its conclusion that the values of derivatives positions on a London trading desk were originally overstated. The filing, like the company’s July 13 announcement, said first-quarter net income was $4.92 billion, or $459 million less than originally reported.

PepsiCo Inc (PEP) said on Thursday it has signed a distribution agreement to sell some of its drinks in Myanmar with Diamond Star Co Ltd, which has been doing business in the Southeast Asian country for nearly 50 years.

The Wendy’s Co. lost money in the second quarter because of costs to refinance debt. But a key sales figure rose as it worked to reinvent itself as a higher-end hamburger chain. The Dublin, Ohio-based fast-food company says sales at restaurants open at least 15 months rose 3.2 percent for the quarter.

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