Stocks pause in early afternoon trading as Caterpillar, homebuilders offset better earnings



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FILE - The New York Stock Exchange is shown, in this Aug. 9, 2011 file photo taken in New York. World shares were rattled Thursday July 24, 2014 by reports the European Union is weighing stiffer financial sanctions against Russia. .(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)


NEW YORK — The stock market idled on Thursday afternoon as investors digested second-quarter results from companies across several industries, including Facebook, Ford and Caterpillar.

Investors also had two economic reports to interpret, one on the housing market and one on the job market.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was flat at 17,089 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,989. The Nasdaq composite was up a point to 4,474.

FACEBOOK SURGES: Facebook rose $4.53, or 6 percent, to $75.78 after reporting a profit late Wednesday that beat expectations. Mobile advertising, a crucial business for the world's largest social media company, saw major growth in the quarter.

THE AUTOMAKERS: Ford rose 10 cents, or 1 percent, to $17.88 after reporting a 6 percent increase in second-quarter earnings to $1.3 billion. The automaker was helped by sales gains in Europe. General Motors fell $1.31, or 4 percent, to $36.10 after announcing an 85-percent drop in quarterly earnings. The company, which is in the midst of the worst recall crisis in its history, posted a net profit of $190 million.

CAT FALL: Dow member Caterpillar fell $3.85, or 4 percent, to $104.55. It was the biggest decliner among the 30 companies that make up the blue-chip average. The construction equipment maker said its quarterly profit rose 4.1 percent, which beat expectations. However, its revenue fell short of forecasts.

HURT HOMEBUILDERS: Homebuilder stocks fell Thursday after the government reported that new home sales dropped precipitously. Sales fell 8.1 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000. The report also revised down the May sales rate to 442,000 from 504,000. Pulte Homes and KB Home fell 2 percent while Toll Brothers fell 4 percent.

D.R. Horton quarterly results also dragged down homebuilders. Its profit dropped, despite an increase in home orders. Shares fell $2.66, or 11 percent, to $22.14.

FEWER JOBLESS CLAIMS: Investors got some good news about jobs. The Labor Department reported weekly applications for unemployment aid dropped 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 claims. That's the lowest reading since February 2006, nearly two years before the Great Recession began.

BONDS AND OIL: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note nudged up to 2.51 percent from 2.47 percent late Wednesday. Bond yields rise when prices fall. U.S. crude oil fell 80 cents to $102.32 a barrel in New York.

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