Stocks edge up mostly, but banks left behind

NEW YORK -- Financial stocks fell broadly Thursday, left out of a late lift that pared earlier losses for most major stock indexes.

Stock indexes were lower for most of the day after claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly for the first time in three weeks. The Labor Department said 412,000 people applied for benefits last week. Economists expected claims to fall.

Goldman Sachs dropped nearly 3 percent after Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said that a panel he leads found new evidence that Goldman misled investors. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. each fell more than 1 percent.

Until recently, it was assumed banks had put their troubles behind them. Todd Salamone of Schaeffer's Investment Research pointed to JPMorgan Chase, which despite good earnings warned this week that it could still take more losses from mortgages.

Bank of America, the country's biggest bank and one of largest mortgage underwriters, reports earnings today.

--The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.16, or 0.1 percent, to 12,285.15.

--The Standard and Poor's 500 stock index added 0.11 point, or less than 0.1 percent, to close at 1,314.52.

--The Nasdaq composite lost 1.30, or 0.1 percent, to 2,760.22.

Google net profit for 1Q is short of expectations

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. -- Google's first-quarter earnings came in below analyst projections as the Internet search leader sped up hiring and increased spending in other areas to drive up its expenses.

Thursday's results may heighten investor fears that Google's earnings might suffer because of the company's commitment to hire at least 6,200 workers this year. That would be the most in Google's 13-year history. The Internet search and advertising giant has a data center near Goose Creek.

Rising costs of gasoline press wholesale prices

WASHINGTON -- More expensive gas pushed wholesale prices higher last month, although pricier cars and furniture also contributed to the increase.

The Producer Price Index, which measures price changes before they reach the consumer, rose 0.7 percent in March, the Labor Department said Thursday. That's down from 1.6 percent in February. The index has increased 5.8 percent in the past year.

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Excluding volatile food and energy costs, prices rose 0.3 percent -- the second-highest increase in the past year. The price of new cars rose by the most in nearly two years, while the cost of some furniture jumped 6.5 percent. Still, core prices are up only 1.9 percent over the past year, a relatively tame rate of inflation.

Latest Johnson & Johnson recall affects two lots of epilepsy pills

TRENTON, N.J. -- Johnson & Johnson issued yet another recall Thursday, this one for about 57,000 bottles of a widely used epilepsy pill, due to complaints of a chemical odor.

The health care giant said it is recalling two lots of 100-milligram tablets of Topamax, sold between Oct. 19 and Dec. 28, 2010. The lot numbers are OKG110 and OLG222. J&J said fewer than 6,000 of the bottles are believed to still be on the market.

Mortgage rates increase for fourth straight week

NEW YORK -- The rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose for the fourth straight week, but still remains below 5 percent.

Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year loan rose to 4.91 percent from 4.87 percent the previous week. It hit a 40-year low of 4.17 percent in November.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage increased to 4.13 percent from 4.10 percent. It reached 3.57 percent in November, the lowest level on records dating back to 1991.

Wire reports