Stocks End Down but Off Session Lows, Gap 1Q Profit Rises 43%

U.S. stocks slipped on Thursday but finished sharply off their session lows after upbeat U.S. economic reports countered worries about the Federal Reserve potentially tapering its bond-buying program. The Dow Jones industrial average shed 12.67 points, or 0.08 percent, to end at 15,294.50. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 4.84 points, or 0.29 percent, to finish at 1,650.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 3.88 points, or 0.11 percent, to close at 3,459.42.

U.S. sales of new homes rose in April and nearly matched the fastest pace in five years, driving the median price to a record
high. The gains suggest the housing recovery is strengthening. New-home sales increased 2.3 percent in April from March to a
seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Gap Inc (GPS) reported a higher first-quarter profit on Thursday, helped by a rise in same-store sales at its Old Navy and
namesake chains, and growth in Asia. The company posted net income of $333 million, or 71 cents per share, for the quarter, up 42.9% from $223 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Pandora Media Inc (P) reported first-quarter revenue grew 55 percent to $125.5 million (83 million pounds) on the strength of mobile advertising and new subscribers. The online streaming music said on Thursday it had a net loss of $28.5 million or 16 cents per share, compared with a loss of $20.2 million or 12 cents per share in the same period a year ago.

Activist investor Carl Icahn and Southeastern Asset Management Inc have initiated talks with banks and asset managers to line up commitments for as much as $7 billion in bridge loans to back their leveraged recapitalization proposal for Dell Inc, banking sources told Thomson Reuters LPC on Thursday.

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