US stocks mostly lower after Fed-induced jolt

Stocks were mostly lower Thursday after surging a day earlier to their latest record highs. The market gained the most in more than two months Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it was trimming its stimulus efforts. Investors saw the decision as a vote of confidence in the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.11 to 16,179.08 to close at another record. The S&P 500 fell 1.05 to 1,809.60. The Nasdaq dropped 11.93 to 4,058.13.

Sales of existing homes fall, extending decline

The number of people who bought existing U.S. homes in November declined for the third straight month. Higher mortgage rates have made home-buying more expensive, while the lingering effect of the October government shutdown might have deterred some sales.

Home resales fell 4.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.90 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday. That was the weakest pace since December 2012 and the first time since April that the pace has slipped below 5 million.

Still, the group predicts that total sales this year will be 5.1 million. That would be the strongest since 2007, when the housing bubble burst.

Rate on 30-year home loan ticks up to 4.47%

Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages rose slightly this week but remained near historically low levels. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday the rate on the 30-year loan increased to 4.47 percent from 4.42 percent last week. The average on the 15-year fixed loan rose to 3.51 percent from 3.43 percent.

Darden looking to spin off or sell Red Lobster

NEW YORK - Darden Restaurants wants to set Red Lobster adrift.

The company said Thursday it's looking to either spin off or sell Red Lobster as part of a plan to boost value for its shareholders. Those plans also include suspending the opening of new Olive Garden locations and limit the opening of new LongHorn Steakhouse restaurants.

Darden has also decided it won't make any acquisitions of additional brands "for the foreseeable future" and plans to review senior management's pay and incentives.

Carnival Cruise reports small profit for quarter

MIAMI - Carnival Cruise Lines posted a small but surprising fourth-quarter profit Thursday as it continues to look for a turnaround after its image was hurt by mechanical problems and fires on three ships earlier this year.

Its net income of $66 million, or 8 cents per share, plunged 29 percent compared to a year earlier. Its adjusted profit was 4 cents per share, better than the break-even result expected by analysts surveyed by FactSet. Revenue rose 2 percent to $3.66 billion, also better than expected. The number of passengers it carried was 3 percent higher than a year earlier.

Carnival uses Charleston as the home port for its Fantasy ship.

Weekly jobless claims climb, at 9-month high

The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose 10,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 379,000, the highest since March. The increase may reflect volatility around the Thanksgiving holidays.

The Labor Department said Thursday that the less volatile four-week average jumped 13,250 to 343,250, the second straight increase.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Last month, they fell to nearly the lowest level in six years, as companies cut fewer jobs. But two weeks ago, they surged 64,000 to 369,000.

Economists dismissed that spike, saying it likely reflected a Thanksgiving holiday that fell later in the month. That can distort the government's seasonal adjustments.

Staff and wire reports