Indexes inch higher on Wall Street, preserving weekly gains

Major indexes edged higher on Wall Street after a day of muted trading, preserving their gains for the week. The S&P; 500 emerged from a midday slump to end with a gain of 0.2% Thursday. Even though most stocks in the S&P; 500 fell, gains for several tech heavyweights, including Apple and Microsoft, pushed the index higher. The Nasdaq added 0.4% while a measure of small-company stocks lost 1.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed a gain of 0.1%. Trading was subdued as investors reviewed the latest corporate earnings and a surprise increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

Stocks were muted in afternoon trading on Wall Street Thursday as investors reviewed the latest corporate earnings and a surprise increase in the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits.

The S&P; 500 was up 0.2% as of 2:15 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 72 points, or 0.1%, to 34,875 and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.4%. All three major indexes are still on pace to end the week higher after strong gains Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Labor Department reported that unemployment claims rose last week to 419,000, the most in two months and more than economists were expecting. Economists characterized last week’s increase as most likely a blip caused by some one-time factors and partly a result of the inevitable bumpiness in the week-to-week data.

That said, investors have been nervous about how well the economy is recovering after the pandemic along with lingering concerns that the delta variant of COVID-19, which is spreading rapidly across the country, may cause businesses and cities to put restrictions into place yet again.

The 10-year Treasury note was trading at a yield of 1.25% down from 1.28% the day before. While the benchmark yield has recovered from its low yields earlier in the week, it continues to trade at relatively low levels given that the economy is in a recovery.

The lower yields weighed on banks, which can charge higher interest on loans when yields rise. JPMorgan Chase fell 1.1% and Bank of America fell 1.2%.

Big technology companies helped counter the dip from banks. Apple rose 1.3% and Microsoft rose 1.3%.

Homebuilders were mostly lower after the National Association of Realtors said sales of previously occupied U.S. homes rose in June after a four-month pullback. The June data also showed the median U.S. home price hit a record high last month, reflecting an increase in sales of higher-end homes, while sales of properties under $150,000 declined.

The sharp rise in home prices, even with mortgage rates near historic lows, has stoked worries that many would-be buyers may be priced out of the market. Beazer Homes USA fell 1.9% and D.R. Horton slid 1.8%.

Company earnings reports are continuing to roll out. Texas Instruments fell 4.8% for the biggest drop in the S&P; 500 after its results disappointed investors. The chip maker also gave a weak outlook for the second half of the year.

Union Pacific rose 1.4% after the railroad said its profits jumped 59% from a year earlier, helped by a 22% increase in cargo carried compared to a year earlier. The results also beat analysts’ expectations. Domino’s Pizza rose 14.2% after its results also surpassed estimates.

Intel and Twitter are among the companies that will report their results after the closing bell.

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