Markets edge higher as investors keep eye on D.C.

NEW YORK — Technology companies led the stock market up for the second day in a row Thursday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39.55 to close at 13,074.04. Chipmaker Intel led the Dow, rising 31 cents to $20.16. The S&P 500 index rose 4.66 to 1,413.94, and the Nasdaq composite climbed 15.57 to 2,989.27.

Investors’ biggest concern remains the automatic tax increases and federal spending cuts scheduled to start Jan. 1. “Everybody is paying close attention to the soap opera in Washington,” said John Canally, investment strategist and economist at LPL Financial.

Boeing, union suspend talks, will resume in 2013

SEATTLE — Boeing Co. and the union representing its 23,000 engineers, mostly in Washington state, suspended talks on new labor contracts for the rest of 2012 at the request of a federal mediator.

Reuters news service reported that the aerospace giant and the union have been in talks since April to replace contracts that expired in October.

A 60-day extension ran out Nov. 25, giving the union the ability to strike. Union leaders have said they would not call a strike until January at the earliest.

ECB pulls back growth outlook for eurozone

NEW YORK — The European Central Bank warned of another gloomy year for the 17 European Union countries that use the euro, cutting its forecast for economic growth in 2013 from plus 0.5 percent to minus 0.3 percent.

Even so, the bank left rates unchanged at its meeting Thursday, and ECB head Mario Draghi gave little sign that he was leaning toward any more cuts to stimulate growth.

The ECB’s revised forecasts come as the eurozone’s economy is caught in a recession.

U.S. unemployment aid requests drop to 370,000

WASHINGTON — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid fell sharply last week as a temporary spike caused by Superstorm Sandy faded. Weekly applications have fallen back to a level consistent with modest hiring.

The Labor Department said Thursday that applications dropped 25,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 370,000.

Unemployment-aid applications spiked a month ago after Sandy closed businesses in the Northeast. Applications jumped to 451,000 in the week ended Nov. 10. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces are forced to close and they are not paid.

T-Mobile likely to start carrying iPhone next year

DALLAS — T-Mobile likely will start carrying the iPhone next year after its parent, Deutsche Telekom, said it has reached a new deal with Apple.

T-Mobile USA had been the lone iPhone-less carrier among the four national wireless companies in the U.S. Although it has been possible to use iPhones on T-Mobile networks, customers had to provide the phones themselves.

The phones also work at much slower speeds, though T-Mobile has been reshuffling its network to match or exceed AT&T’s data speeds.

Average 30-year loan rate edges higher to 3.34%

WASHINGTON — Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages ticked up this week just slightly above their record lows, keeping home-buying and refinancing attractive to consumers.

Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan ticked up to 3.34 percent, while last week’s rate was 3.32 percent. Two weeks ago, the rate dipped to 3.31 percent, the lowest on records dating to 1971.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage rose to 2.67 percent from 2.64 percent last week. The rate declined to 2.63 percent two weeks ago, also a record low.

Wire reports