Skip to main content

Updated from 9:53 a.m. EST

Stocks in the U.S. were bobbing around the flat line Thursday, but the averages were holding up well considering the sharp rise in unemployment numbers and discouraging news from the retail, auto and technology sectors.


Dow Jones Industrial Average

was up fractionally at 8283, and the

S&P 500

was adding 0.7 points to 853. The


slipped 7.2 points to 1492.

All things considered, the market's stability was notable as a number of bearish headlines crossed the newswires. Retail giant


(WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report

reported a rise in third-quarter profit, but said its performance for the remainder of its fiscal 2009 would be hurt by currency fluctuations.

Financial stocks were also holding the spotlight again.

The Wall Street Journal

reported that

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends


(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report

board, unhappy about the banking titan's recent results, was considering replacing its chairman, Sir Win Bischoff.

As for the automotive sector,


reported that the beleaguered

General Motors

(GM) - Get General Motors Company Report

was hitting a snag in its efforts to sell $4 billion in assets to raise its cash levels. Several lawmakers have begun discussing whether GM, along with


(F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report



, needs a government bailout.

In the technology arena, chipmaker


(INTC) - Get Intel Corporation Report

cut its fourth-quarter revenue forecast on weakening demand.

Elsewhere among chipmakers,

Applied Materials

(AMAT) - Get Applied Materials Inc. Report

announced a sharp decline in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings and said it would eliminate 1,800 jobs next year.

German industrial conglomerate


(SI) - Get Silvergate Capital Corporation Class A Report

, meanwhile, announced a widened quarterly loss on charges related to job cuts and money dedicated to costs stemming from a bribery investigation.

Looking at economic data, the Department of Labor reported that jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 8 came it at 516,000, above economists' estimates of 479,000 and breaking above 500,000 for the first time since 2001. The jobless figure from the previous week was also revised to 484,000 from 481,000.

Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, said that the Labor Department doesn't seem to have cited one-time causes for the jump in unemployment claims, so it's probably safe to say there has been an actual increase in layoffs.

"Assuming it is mirrored in a reduced pace of gross hirings too, this means we can look forward to a further deterioration in the payroll numbers," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the Census Bureau announced that the September trade balance registered a deficit of $56.5 billion, below analysts' forecast of $57 billion and down from a $59.1 billion deficit in August.

As the

housing crisis

wore on, RealtyTrac reported that 84,868 homes were foreclosed on in October, a 25% increase from the year-ago tally.

In commodities, crude oil was adding $1.18 to $57.34 a barrel. Gold was edging up 30 cents to $718.60 an ounce.

Longer-dated U.S. Treasury securities were falling in price. The 10-year was down 6/32, yielding 3.75%, and the 30-year was losing 27/32 to yield 4.22%. The dollar was strengthening vs. the pound and yen, but softening against the euro.

Following weeks of declines in borrowing costs, credit markets tightened a bit Thursday. Three-month dollar Libor, a measure of the rate banks charge one another for large loans, edged up 2 basis points to 2.15%. Overnight Libor likewise climbed 2 basis points to 0.4%.

Across the seas, European exchanges were mixed, as the FTSE in London traded lower, while the DAX in Frankfurt was logging gains. In


, Japan's Nikkei and Hong Kong's Hang Seng closed with losses.