NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. benchmark stock indices were little changed Thursday -- the S&P 500 slightly higher, the Dow Jones Industrial Average inching lower -- on a day packed with earnings reports.
The U.S. jobless claims report was a positive for markets after initial jobless claims for the week of July 19 fell by 19,000 to a smaller-than-expected 284,000, its lowest level since Feb. 18, 2006.
The Dow closed down 0.02% to 17,083.8. The S&P 500 gained 0.05% to 1,987.96. The Nasdaq slipped 0.04% to 4,472.11. U.S. stocks closed mixed Wednesday, with the S&P 500 logging its 71st closing all-time high for this bull market since the market bottom on March 9, 2009.
"The market continues to remind investors that the trend remains their friend, as it focuses on earnings growth while shrugging off global hostility concerns and the downward revision to second-quarter GDP growth estimates from above 3.5% to below 3% currently," wrote Sam Stovall, managing director of U.S. equity research at S&P Capital IQ.
Stovall noted that the market may be giving investors encouragement that modest growth will likely keep inflation in check and the Federal Reserve on hold as far as rates are concerned.
S&P Capital IQ estimated that second-quarter S&P 500 earnings growth should to come in at 7.3% year-over-year, with earnings per share of $28.89. That's up from its prior day estimate of 7% growth with EPS of $28.80.
Thursday was another busy day for corporate earnings. Social network Facebook (FB) was one of the heaviest traded stocks of the day after reporting sharply higher second-quarter earnings on increasing revenue from mobile advertising. Shares of Facebook surged 5.2% to $74.98.
After the bell, Starbucks (SBUX) reported third-quarter earnings of 67 cents a share, a penny higher than estimates, while Visa (V) recorded net income of $2.17 a share, 8 cents more than forecasts. Amazon.com (AMZN), the online retailing giant, reported a second-quarter loss of 27 cents a share, wider than an estimated 15 cents a share. Shares are down 5.3% to $339.78 in extended trading.
AT&T (T) said second-quarter earnings fell as customers moved to cheaper cellphone plans, while chipmaker Qualcomm (QCOM), down 6.7% to $76.10, said fiscal third-quarter net income rose 42%, topping expectations, but guidance for the fourth quarter came in below forecasts.
Ford (F) inched 0.34% higher to $17.84 after reporting second-quarter earnings on Thursday of 32 cents share, up from 30 cents a year earlier. General Motors (GM) missed by a penny with earnings per share of 58 cents, as the auto giant continues to deal with the financial fallout of its massive recalls.
Caterpillar (CAT) reported second-quarter earnings that topped estimates by 17 cents at $1.69 a share, but disappointed on sales expectations as its China results came in soft. Shares tumbled 3.1% to $105.01.
D.R. Horton (DHI) slid 11.5% to $21.94 after third-quarter earnings of 32 cents a share missed estimates of 49 cents a share.
In other top corporate headlines, Walmart (WMT) announced that Greg Foran has been promoted to CEO of Walmart U.S., succeeding Bill Simon who has been in the role since June 2010 and will be transitioning out of the company. Foran was promoted to CEO of Walmart Asia earlier this year. Shares were off 0.83% to $76.35.
International markets were generally higher. European stock indices reversed early losses to move higher on Thursday after positive manufacturing data pointed to a eurozone recovery. The Shanghai Composite increased 1.28% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng rose 0.71% after the HSBC "flash" manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index advanced to 52 in July from 50.7 in June.
-- By Andrea Tse and Keris Alison Lahiff in New York