Jobless claims, mixed profit reports hold back stocks
NEW YORK -- A surprise jump in applications for unemployment benefits and mixed earnings from large U.S. companies kept stocks on a short leash Thursday. Indexes ended slightly higher, with the Standard & Poor's 500 closing a half point below 1,300.
The Dow Jones industrial average traded above 12,000 for most of the day but did not close above that level for the second day in a row.
Procter & Gamble fell 2.9 percent, the largest drop among the firms that make up the Dow. P&G said rising commodity prices are pinching profits.
AT&T fell 2 percent after saying that new wireless contracts fell to the lowest level in five-plus years. Caterpillar rose 0.9 percent after its profit quadrupled on strong demand for mining and construction equipment.
--The Dow inched up 4.39, or 0.4 percent, to 11,989.83.
--The S&P 500 rose 2.91 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,299.54. The last time the index closed above 1,300 was Aug. 28, 2008.
--The Nasdaq gained 15.78, or 0.6 percent, to 2,755.28.
S.C. regulators weigh in on Savannah dredging
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control this week submitted comments on the Savannah Harbor expansion project, saying it would degrade coastal resources and habitats.
The Army Corps of Engineers intends to deepen Savannah Harbor to as much as 48 feet from 42 feet, but because Georgia and South Carolina share the Savannah River, regulators in both states must sign off on the project. DHEC's comments warn that using Jasper County for dredge disposal in deepening the harbor could eliminate the opportunity to develop a joint Georgia-South Carolina Jasper terminal.
DHEC officials disagreed with the amount of time allowed for comments and reserved the right to weigh in further. The Savannah River Maritime Commission and the Southern Environmental Law Center made similar comments.
Interest rates on home loans edge up slightly this week
LOS ANGELES -- The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose slightly this week, following increases in bond yields, Freddie Mac said Thursday.
The average rate rose to 4.80 percent this week from 4.74 percent the previous week. The average rate on the 15-year loan inched up to 4.09 percent from 4.05 percent.
Rates have changed little in the new year after spiking more than half a percentage point in the past two months.
LinkedIn files papers to offer stock in public sale
SAN FRANCISCO -- LinkedIn Corp., the firm behind the largest website for professional networking, plans to raise at least $175 million in an initial public offering of stock that could open the IPO floodgates for other widely used online services that connect people with common interests.
The papers filed Thursday by LinkedIn puts the 8-year-old company on a path to make its stock market debut in the next three to four months.
NBSC office near Shem Creek 1 of 3 across state to close
A National Bank of South Carolina branch near Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant will close under a major cost-cutting plan by the lender's parent.
Synovus spokesman Greg Hudgison said the bank holding company also is shuttering two NBSC offices, in North Myrtle Beach and Greenville.
The company would not say how many employees will be affected, and the timing of the closings was not disclosed. Synovus announced this month it would lay off 850 workers and shut 39 branches in five states in the first half of 2011. More than half are expected to be laid off by early February.
NBSC moved into the branch at 122 Coleman Blvd. around 1996. The closing will leave the lender with one East Cooper office, at 1470 U.S. Highway 17. NBSC has about 40 branches statewide.