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US stocks inch up after Facebook, Ford, Caterpillar report results; homebuilders hit hard

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NEW YORK — U.S. stocks were barely higher in morning trading Thursday as investors digested second-quarter results from big companies across several industries, including Facebook, Ford and Caterpillar.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,101 as of 11:05 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,989. The Nasdaq composite was up two points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,475. For every 10 stocks that rose, seven fell.

FACEBOOK SURGES: Facebook rose $4.04, or 6 percent, to $75.33 after reporting a profit late Wednesday that beat expectations. The world's largest social media company said late Wednesday that it earned $788 million, or 30 cents per share, in the April-June period.

PHOTO: FILE - The New York Stock Exchange is shown, in this Aug. 9, 2011 file photo taken in New York. World shares were rattled Thursday July 24, 2014 by reports the European Union is weighing stiffer financial sanctions against Russia.  .(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - The New York Stock Exchange is shown, in this Aug. 9, 2011 file photo taken in New York. World shares were rattled Thursday July 24, 2014 by reports the European Union is weighing stiffer financial sanctions against Russia. .(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

THE AUTOMAKERS: General Motors fell $1.43, or nearly 4 percent, to $36.01 after it reported an 85 percent drop in quarterly earnings. The automaker, in the midst of the worst recall crisis in its history, posted a net profit of $190 million. Meanwhile, Ford rose 22 cents, or 1 percent, to $18.02 after it said second-quarter earnings rose 6 percent to $1.3 billion. The company was helped by sales gains in Europe.

CAT FALL: Dow member Caterpillar fell $3.51, or 3 percent, to $104.91. The construction equipment maker said its quarterly profit rose 4.1 percent, which beat expectations. However, its revenue fell short of forecasts.

HURT HOMEBUILDERS: Homebuilder stocks fell Thursday after the Commerce Department reported that new home sales dropped precipitously. New home sales fell 8.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000. The report also revised down the May sales rate to 442,000 from 504,000. Pulte Homes, Toll Brothers, KB Homes fell 3 percent or more.

FEWER JOBLESS CLAIMS: Also on the economic front, investors got some good news about jobs. The Labor Department reported weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 claims. That's the lowest reading since February 2006, nearly two years before the Great Recession began.

BONDS AND OIL: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note nudged up to 2.50 percent from 2.47 percent late Wednesday. Bond yields rise when prices fall. Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 14 cents to $102.97 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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