Briefcase

Dimon

NEW YORK — The Dow Jones industrial average broke a six-day losing streak Thursday, notching a small gain after the government released better unemployment numbers.

The Dow’s six-day negative run was its longest losing streak since August.

Investors have worried that job growth is fading, so they were encouraged by a Labor Department report that applications for unemployment benefits dropped 1,000 to 367,000 in the week ending May 5.

That pulled the four-week average to 379,000, closing in on the 375,000 level that suggests that job growth is strong enough to reduce the unemployment rate.

The Dow rose 19.98 to close at 12,855.04. The S&P 500 index rose 3.41 points to close at 1,357.99.

Tech stocks closed down 0.8 percent, and the Nasdaq index fell 1.07 to 2,933.64.

The pilot strike crippling Air India, Boeing South Carolina’s first customer, continued Thursday, leading to yet more canceled flights and critical statements from the India’s civil aviation minister.

According to reports, as many as 400 of the state-owned airline’s pilots are staying away from work to protest nonpayment of salaries and a plan to train colleagues from the former Indian Airlines to fly Boeing’s new 787.

According to one report, Ajit Singh, the aviation minister, said Thursday that the flag carrier is “in a very bad financial situation” and risks losing a $5.8 billion bailout.

Air India is scheduled to take delivery of its first 787 in North Charleston this summer and three more by year’s end.

NEW YORK — JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, said Thursday it lost $2 billion in a trading portfolio designed to hedge against risks the firm takes with its own money.

“The portfolio has proved to be riskier, more volatile and less effective as an economic hedge than we thought,” CEO Jamie Dimon said. “There were many errors, sloppiness and bad judgment.”

The loss is an embarrassment for a bank that weathered the financial crisis in much better health than its peers. It kept clear of risky investments that hurt most other big banks.

WASHINGTON — Donald Layton, the former chief executive of brokerage firm E*Trade Financial, will be the next CEO of Freddie Mac.

The government-controlled mortgage gaint said Layton, 62, will take over the job May 21. He will succeed Charles Haldeman, who announced last fall that he would resign this year.

NEW YORK — Beauty products maker Coty is raising its buyout offer for Avon Products by 6.5 percent to almost $10.7 billion, with help from investor Warren Buffett.

Avon said Thursday that Coty told it that it was raising its offer. Coty’s financiers include Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.

Avon rejected Coty’s first offer last month. Coty said it will withdraw its latest bid if it doesn’t receive a response by late Monday.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. trade deficit widened more than forecast in March as American demand for crude oil, computers, automobiles and televisions propelled imports to a record.

The gap grew 14 percent to $51.8 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

A 5.2 percent jump in imports, the biggest in more than a year, swamped the 2.9 percent gain in exports.

Staff and wire reports