Stocks Opened Mildly Up, Earnings on Focus

U.S. stocks open mildly up on Thursday as investors sorted through a mixed bag of earnings. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 53.22 points, or 0.34%, to 15,523.74. The S&P 500 index added 5.11 points, or 0.30%, to 1,686.02. The Nasdaq Composite was up 1.13 points, or 0.03%, to 3,611.13.

New claims for jobless benefits dropped last week to their lowest level in four months, a positive sign for hiring that could bolster expectations the Federal Reserve will ease its monetary stimulus this year. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits fell by 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 334,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday.
Morgan Stanley’s (NYSE:MS) second-quarter net income rose 66%, beating analyst estimates, as the investment bank bounced back from a slump in trading revenue a year earlier.

UnitedHealth Group Inc on Thursday reported a bigger-than-expected rise in second-quarter net income as it enrolled more people in private and government-paid health insurance plans and sold more health technology systems. UnitedHealth reported net income of $1.44 billion (945.50 million pounds), or $1.40 per share, compared with $1.34 billion, or $1.27 per share, a year earlier.

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ), the second-largest U.S. phone company, reported second-quarter profit that beat estimates after gaining more wireless subscribers on long-term contracts. Sales rose 4.3 percent to $29.8 billion in the quarter, Verizon said. Net income jumped to $2.25 billion, or 78 cents a share, from $1.83 billion, or 64 cents, a year earlier.

Several large shareholders including Vanguard Group Inc and BlackRock Inc (NYSE: BLK – news) voted in favor of Michael Dell and Silver Lake’s deal to take PC maker Dell Inc private, but the proposal is still short of shareholder votes, a person¬†familiar with the matter said.

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