Stocks Fluctuated after Jobless Claims, GDP Data

U.S. stocks fluctuated in the early trading on Thursday after the economy expanding less than forecast and jobless claims fell.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately gained 25.04 points, or 0.15% to 16,294.03. The S&P 500 was up 2.78 points, or 0.15%, at 1,855.34.  The Nasdaq Composite added 8.08 points, or 0.19%, at 4,181.65.

The economy’s growth in the final three months of 2013 was bumped up to a 2.6% annual pace from 2.4%, mainly because of higher spending on health care, the government said Thursday. Data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis Thursday shows that real GDP — which measures output produced in the United States — grew at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits fell 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 311,000, the lowest since late November and a hopeful sign hiring could pick up. The four-week average of applications, a less volatile measure, fell 9,500 to 317,750, the Labor Department said Thursday.

The growth in aftertax U.S. corporate profits slowed to 2% in the fourth quarter from 2.4% in the third quarter and 3.5% in the second quarter, adjusted for inventories and other special accounting effects, the government reported Thursday.

The top Democrat on the U.S. House Financial Services Committee on Thursday introduced a draft proposal to abolish Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and create a new lender-owned cooperative that would issue government-backed loans.

A bubble could form in the U.S. economy even as the Federal Reserve unwinds its accommodative policy, a top U.S. central banker said on Thursday, adding policymakers’ ability to spot them had improved substantially.

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