Stocks mixed in early trading, with economy in focus

Stocks were modestly lower in early trading Thursday, pulling major indexes a bit further below the record highs they marked at the beginning of the week. Investors continue to be focused on where the economy is headed as the pandemic wanes and also on the latest company earnings reports.

The S&P 500 index fell 0.2% as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite was down less than 0.1%. The S&P 500 is mostly unchanged for the week while the Nasdaq is down 0.5%.

More companies are reporting their quarterly results. Progressive sank 5% after the insurance company’s results fell far short of analysts’ forecasts. Traders had little reaction to results from Morgan Stanley, which reported a 10% rise in quarterly profits from a year earlier.

A larger bulk of companies will start reporting next week, when earnings season gets into full swing.

American International Group, better known as AIG, rose 3% after the insurance company reached a deal with Blackstone Group to help manage some of its life insurance assets.

Traders will also be closely watching a second day of testimony before Congress by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell. Powell suggested in testimony to a House committee Wednesday that inflation will likely remain elevated, but eventually moderate, reinforcing the central bank’s position that rising inflation is a temporary impact from the recovering economy.

Investors also got a report from the Labor Department showed that unemployment claims fell by 26,000 last week to 360,000, the lowest level since the pandemic struck last year.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.34% from 1.35% the day before.