U.S. stocks end mixed on mortgage bailout speculation
U.S. stocks recovered from their lows on Thursday after Reuters reported the Obama administration was working on a program to subsidize mortgage payments for troubled homeowners, Xinhua reported.
Stocks tumbled earlier in the day as record high first time unemployment benefit applications offset the surprising jump in retail sales.
The U.S. Labor Department reported that the number of initial jobless benefit claims dropped to a seasonally-adjusted 623,000, from an upwardly revised figure of 631,000 the previous week. The number is still above analysts' forecasts and remains at a 26-year high.
Meanwhile, the number of continuing unemployment benefits applications rose from 4.78 million to 4.81 million, the highest level since 1967.
The U.S. Commerce Department said that retail sales jumped 1 percent in January. It was the biggest increase in 14 months and topped the economists' expectations. Retailing industry has been suffering from the worst holiday selling season in 40 years and sales tumbled 2.7 percent in December.
Another report of the Commerce Department showed that businesses cut inventories by 1.3 percent in December, the biggest reduction in seven years and worse than the analysts' expectations.
Coca-Cola Co. said on Thursday that its fourth-quarter earnings dropped 18 percent, but its adjusted earnings still topped Wall Street's forecast. Coca-Cola shares rose 2.83 dollars, or 6.86 percent, to 44.10 dollars.
The Dow Jones industrial average was off 6.77 points, or 0.09 percent, to 7,932.76. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.45 points, or 0.17 percent, at 835.19. The Nasdaq composite index was up 11.21 points, or 0.73 percent, to 1,541.71.