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US stocks little changed; S&P 500 inches to record

Wall Street stocks Thursday finished little changed with the S&P 500 inching to a new record following mixed US economic data and a flood of corporate earnings.

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks on Thursday finished little changed with the S&P 500 inching to a new record following mixed US economic data and a flood of corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 2.83 points (0.02 per cent) to 17,083.80, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.59 points (0.04 per cent) to 4,472.11.

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 0.97 points (0.05 per cent) to 1,987.98, creeping up to a record for the second day in a row.

Sales of new single-family houses fell 8.1 per cent in June to an annual pace of 406,000, the Commerce Department said.

On the positive side, new claims for US unemployment insurance benefits slid to an eight-year low last week, dropping 19,000 to 284,000, the Labour Department reported.

Facebook surged 5.2 per cent after earnings more than doubled to US$791 million. But General Motors tumbled 4.5 per cent as second-quarter profit slumped 85 per cent to US$190 million following a hefty charge for recalls.

Caterpillar fell 3.1 per cent as it lowered its 2014 revenue forecast to a range of US$54-US$56 billion from the previous projection of US$56 billion. The company cited a weaker outlook for construction in China, the Commonwealth of Independent States region made up of ex-Soviet countries and Africa/Middle East.

Athletic attire maker Under Armour shot up 14.7 per cent after increasing its 2014 profit and revenue forecast following a 34 per cent surge in second-quarter revenue to US$619 million.

Other companies that reported earnings included American Airlines (-2.7 per cent), Bristol-Myers Squibb (+0.3 per cent), Celgene (-3.3 per cent), Ford Motor (+0.3 per cent), Hershey (-1.8 per cent), Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide (-5.5 per cent), Qualcomm (-6.7 per cent) and United Continental (-2.4 per cent).

Wal-Mart Stores dipped 0.8 percent as it announced it was replacing Bill Simon as head of its US division with Greg Foran, currently head of Walmart Asia.

Online real estate company Zillow vaulted 15.3 per cent higher on a report it wants to buy rival Trulia. Trulia bolted up 32.4 per cent.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.51 per cent from 2.46 per cent on Wednesday, while the 30-year increased to 3.30 per cent from 3.26 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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