US stocks hovered around a narrow range in mid-Thursday trading, as investors weighed a poor earnings reports from Wal-Mart
(NYSE:WMT) and weak jobs data.
Initial jobless claimed for the previous week jumped to 439,000, thanks to the impact of Superstorm Sandy. The consensus estimate had been 375,000.
“To the extent we are continuing to see weakness in this marketplace, we’re clearly focused on the storm damage to economic data and businesses, and the more difficult path to come to a bargain by the end of the year,” Art Hogan, a market strategist at Lazard Capital Markets, told MarketWatch
The Dow Jones Industrial Average
(INDEXDJX:.DJI) was down 0.38% to 12,523.19 points as of 12:00 p.m. EST.
Bank of America
(NYSE:BAC) was one of the day’s strongest Dow stocks, advancing 0.89% to $9.07. Earlier the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that delinquent home loans, defined as loans that were at least 90 days behind on payments, dipped close to 1% to 7.03%, the lowest level in over four years, in the third quarter.
Fellow Dow financials JPMorgan
(NYSE:JPM) (+0.14%) and Travelers
(NYSE:TRV) (+0.19%) were also up marginally. The bellwether Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF
(NYSEARCA:XLF), which tracks all financial stocks in the S&P 500, was up 0.10% to $15.16.
Shares of Intel
(NASDAQ:INTC) briefly hit a new 52-week low before gaining ground in afternoon trading. The stock was up 1.06% to $20.17. Evercore Partners analyst Patrick Wang said in a note this morning that Intel’s new chip line, the "Xeon Phi," could take as much as 90% of rival Nvidia's
(NASDAQ:NVDA) share in the high-performance processor market.
Wal-Mart was unsurprisingly the day’s hardest-hit Dow stock, sliding 3.67% to $68.67. The big box retail giant posted total sales of $113.20 billion in the third quarter, when analysts were looking for $114.96. Same-store sales in the US increased 1.5%, compared to the 1.8% gain analysts had forecast.
"The slight deceleration in growth reflects the underlying pressures facing US consumers," Natalie Berg, director of global research at Planet Retail, told Reuters
. "Having made significant improvements to price perception, Wal-Mart today is actually well placed to cater to budget-conscious shoppers. But at the end of the day, consumers are still very wary about parting with their hard-earned cash."
(NYSE:T) also fell 1.48% to $33.28 in an overall bearish day for telecommunications stocks. Verizon
(NYSE:VZ) (-1.11%) and Sprint
(NYSE:S) (-0.27%) were also down.
No positions in stocks mentioned.
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