Stocks Opened Flat after Economic Reports

U.S. stocks opened near unchanged on Thursday  after data showed first time claims for jobless benefits fell sharply last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 1.23 points, or 0.01%, to 13,244.22. The S&P 500 index  held flat at 1,428.90 and the Nasdaq Composite was lately up 1.08 points, or 0.04%, at 3,014.89.

Retail sales rose in November and jobless claims fell sharply last week, hopeful signs for an economy that appears to have slowed sharply in the fourth quarter. Retail sales rose 0.3 percent, rebounding from a 0.3 percent decline in October, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 29,000 to a seasonally adjusted 343,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

 Google’s navigation tool has returned to the iPhone, months after Apple’s home-grown mapping service flopped, prompting user complaints, the firing of an executive and a public apology fromApple’s CEO. The Google Maps app will be compatible with any iPhone or iPod Touch that runs iOS 5.1 or higher, the company said in a blog post.

Sprint Nextel Corp (NYS:S), the majority owner of Clearwire Corp (CLWR), has offered $2.1 billion to buy the rest of the wireless service provider but it will likely have to offer more money in order to secure a deal.

Best Buy ‘s founder Richard Schulze will make a fully financed offer to buy the electronics retailer by the end of the week. The offer will likely be at least $5 billion to $6 billion, with financing coming from bankers and private equity firms including Cerberus, Leonard Greene & Partner and the Texas Pacific Group.

 Barclays Plc (BARC.L) plans to cut as many as 2,000 jobs in its investment bank as part of a broad restructuring of the company, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the British bank’s plans.

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