Stocks Struggled After Economic News

U.S. stocks opened little changed on Wednesday as investors assessed higher jobless claims and other weak economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 8.06 points, or 0.05%, to 17,806.88. The S&P 500 was up 0.88 point, or 0.04%, to 2,067.91. The Nasdaq Composite gained 10.33 points, or 0.22%, to 4,768.58.

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the first time in nearly three months. Weekly applications rose 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 313,000, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

U.S. consumer spending rose modestly in October and a key measure of business spending plans on equipment fell for a second straight month, suggesting some slowing in the pace of economic growth. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday consumer spending increased 0.2 percent last month after being flat in September.

Orders for U.S. business equipment such as machinery and electrical gear unexpectedly declined in October. Bookings for non-military capital goods excluding aircraft fell 1.3 percent for a second straight month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington.

Deere & Co beat fiscal fourth-quarter profit and sales forecasts, but provided a downbeat outlook for equipment sales. For the quarter ended Oct. 31, the company reported earnings of $649.2 million, or $1.83 a share, down from $806.8 million, or $2.11 a share, in the year-earlier period, but above the FactSet consensus analyst estimate of $1.57. Revenue fell 5% to $8.97 billion,

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