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Stocks End Little Changed Amid Earnings, Upbeat Jobless Claims Data

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. indices closed little changed amid corporate earnings as investors hedged their bets ahead of a long weekend. Jobless claims for the week beat expectations.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1% to 16,408.54, while the S&P 500 was 0.14% higher at 1,864.85. The Nasdaq increased 0.23% to 4,095.52.
  • For the shortened trading week, the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq added 2.4%, 2.7% and 2.4%, respectively, a week after the major averages dropped more than 2%.
  • "It is not surprising that you've got a mixed reaction this year among those who are jumping in and keeping up with the Joneses, because what if it runs up and I'm not there," Dorothy Weaver, CEO of Collins Capital and former Chairman of the Miami Fed, said in a phone interview from Miami.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he would not rule out sending troops into Ukraine, but said he hoped not to. He accused the Kiev government of committing "a serious crime" by using the military to quell unrest. Pro-Russian militants have seized control of 10 cities in east Ukraine and Putin said the situation could only be resolved through discussion. Foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, the U.S. and the European Union are working on a joint statement on Ukraine's crisis.
  • In earnings news, Goldman Sachs (GS) closed up 0.14% after posting a 10% fall in first-quarter net income, but earnings of $4.02 a share beat estimates of $3.45. Morgan Stanley (MS) was also higher, up 2.9%, after announcing first-quarter earnings rose 63% to $1.46 billion or 74 cents a share. This compared to $981 million, or 48 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier. PepsiCo (PEP) edged up 0.92% after booking quarterly earnings per share of 83 cents, topping expectations of 75 cents. General Electric (GE) shares added 1.7% as first-quarter earnings fell amid a decline in revenue. Operating earnings per share were 33 cents a share; analysts were expecting 32 cents. UnitedHealth Group (UNH) shed 3.1% after it said first-quarter earnings fell 7.8%, though its membership numbers increased. DuPont (DD) was off 1.1% after its first-quarter earnings fell 57%. The chemicals and agricultural company noted business growth had been offset by harsh weather.
  • Jobless claims in the week ended April 12 increased by 2,000 to a lower-than-expected 304,000 vs. the average economist's estimate of 315,000. The four-week moving average fell 4,750 to 312,000, the lowest level for this average since Oct. 6, 2007. The report falls in the survey week of the monthly government job report and, as a whole, looks like it could bode well for the employment situation report for April.
  • The Philadelphia Fed Index for April beat expectations. Its broadest measure of manufacturing conditions rose from 9.0 in March to 16.6 in April -- its highest reading since last September. The index has risen for two consecutive months after weather-related impact in February.
  • Friday will be a market holiday in observance of Good Friday.
  • International markets were mostly higher. The Hong Kong Hang Seng closed up 0.28% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan finished flat. In its latest monthly report, the Japanese government pointed to a fall in private consumption and housing construction after the April sales tax hike to 8% from 5%. The FTSE 100 in London closed 0.62% higher and the DAX in Germany was up 0.99%.
  • Major U.S. stock markets jumped Wednesday after better-than-expected Chinese growth while investors digested dovish remarks from Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and an improved Beige Book report. Domestic economic data was mixed.
  • Disappointing earnings from Google (GOOG) and IBM  (IBM - Get Report) late Wednesday triggered fluctuations in the technology sector.
  • Google shares ended down 3.7% after the Internet search giant posted first-quarter earnings that missed Wall Street expectations. IBM lost 3.3% after reporting lower first-quarter net income and a slide in revenue.

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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