April 18, 2024

Shares Are Mixed as Jobless Claims Fall

The Labor Department said the number of newly laid-off workers seeking benefits dropped 29,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 409,000. Economists had expected a decline to 420,000, from 434,000, a week earlier. The result suggests that the job market is recovering, if slowly.

But Sears Holding Corporation reported softer sales at its Kmart and Sears stores, causing a first-quarter loss of $1.58 per share, worse than analysts expected. And Big Lots stock fell after news reports that it decided not to sell itself. The Wall Street Journal said late Wednesday that the company received bids from two private-equity groups that were lower than it had hoped.

In early trading the Dow Jones industrial average was up 6.81 points, or 0.1 percent. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index and the Nasdaq composite index were flat.

Two reports due in the morning could provide more clues about the strength of the housing recovery and the overall direction of growth in the United States economy.

The National Association of Realtors will report on the number of previously occupied homes purchased in April.

Economists expect that the pace of sales in April rose nearly 2 percent from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.2 million units. That’s still far below the 6 million homes a year that economists say represents a healthy market. Also, economists expect that the small increase was likely driven by investors — not the first-time homebuyers who are needed to help the housing market recover.

Meanwhile, foreclosures and short sales — when a lender agrees to accept less than what is owed on a mortgage — now make up 40 percent of all home sales.

The Conference Board will report on expectations for future economic activity based on an index of leading economic indicators. Economists project that the index increased a paltry 0.1 percent in April. That would be its slowest rate of increase since August 2010.

The market appears to be taking in stride news that Japan sank back into recession in the first quarter because of interruptions to output and dislocation after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.

Government figures showed the Japanese economy shrank more than anticipated, by a quarterly rate of 0.9 percent, dragging the Nikkei index of leading Japanese shares down 0.4 percent to 9,680.82.

Technology traders can bid on shares of a social-networking company for the first time with the initial public offering of LinkedIn. Shares opened at $83 on Thursday, nearly double the offering price. The price puts LinkedIn’s market value at $4.3 billion, the highest for an Internet I.P.O. in the United States.

The market rose Wednesday after three days of declines, as widespread gains in commodity prices lifted energy and materials companies and the Federal Reserve released minutes showing that officials believe the economy is improving. That could increase demand for raw materials like steel and fertilizer.

The Dow added 81 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 12,560 Wednesday.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=6e58d1f14e08ad955f9f779f0da55c3a

Speak Your Mind