Stocks Opened Mostly Lower After Data, Earnings

U.S. stocks opened mostly lower on Thursday, as investors considered corporate results and economic reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 66.66 points, or 0.43%, to 15,475.58. The S&P 500 index was down 3.84 points, or 0.23%, at  1,682.10. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.64 point, or 0.02%, to 3,580.24.

The number of people who applied for new unemployment benefits showed a modest increase last week, but the level of so-called  initial claims reflected little change in a slowly improving U.S. labor market. Initial jobless claims moved up by 7,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 343,000 in the week ended July 20, the Labor Department said Thursday.

A gauge of planned U.S. business spending rose more than expected in June and new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods surged, offering tentative signs of a pickup in economic activity. The Commerce Department said on Thursday non-defence capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, increased 0.7 percent after rising by a revised 2.2 percent in May.

General Motors Co (GM) on Thursday posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit on strong demand in North America and cost- cutting in its struggling European business. Excluding one-time items, mostly related to the acquisition of preferred shares in GM Korea, the automaker earned 84 cents a share, 9 cents above the average forecast of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. GM shares were up 2 percent in premarket trading. Revenue rose 4 percent to $39.1 billion, above the $38.37 billion analysts had expected.

Dow Chemical Co’s (DOW) adjusted quarterly profit jumped 16 percent, topping analysts’ estimates, driven by robust demand for a new line of crop protection products. Dow’s net income rose 72 percent to $2.34 billion, or $1.87 per share, in the second quarter, helped by a $2.2 billion arbitration award. Excluding the arbitration award and other one-time items, Dow earned 64 cents per share, just beating the average expectation from analysts for 63 cents per share.

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