Banks, techs attract bargain investors
NEW YORK — Investors shoved aside jitters about the economy Thursday to do a little bargain hunting.
Stocks rose after mostly falling for three days as traders scooped up beaten-down financial and technology stocks. The buying was subdued after a worse-than-expected weekly unemployment report added to concerns that the economic recovery might not come as quickly as hoped.
The market is down sharply this week as investors worry that the optimism that fed a massive spring rally might have been premature. The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 46 points, but lagged gains by the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
Meanwhile, a bit of sour news Thursday, in the form of increased jobless claims and higher wholesale prices, suggested the economy is moving in fits and starts.
Mortgage rates up, but stay under 5%
SAN FRANCISCO — Rates on 30-year fixed mortgages rose slightly for the second straight week but still remained below 5 percent, Freddie Mac said Thursday. The average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.86 percent, up from 4.84 percent last week. Rates have been below 5 percent for nine straight weeks.
The mortgage finance giant said the average rate on a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.52 percent, up from 4.51 percent last week.
Blockbuster's revenue plummets by 20%
SAN FRANCISCO — Blockbuster Inc.'s first-quarter profit sagged 42 percent to $24.9 million as fewer people came to its stores to rent videos, though the long-slumping company softened the blow by whittling the size of its chain and shedding other expenses.
Revenue plunged nearly 20 percent to $1.12 billion, nearly $200 million below analyst estimates.
The results released Thursday were the latest sign of the challenges facing Blockbuster as it struggles to draw customers who are increasingly getting movies through the mail or Internet connections.
Kohl's taking sales away from others
MILWAUKEE — The cutback in consumer spending pushed Kohl's Corp.'s earnings down 11 percent in its fiscal first quarter. But the chain's results beat expectations, and it said it expects to keep gaining market share from competitors.
Kohl's has been posting same-store sales declines like many other retailers, but the drops are less than what competitors like Macy's and J.C. Penney saw, which signals Kohl's is gaining market share. Traffic drops are lessening, too.
In the three months ended May 2, Kohl's earned $137 million, while sales edged up 0.4 percent to $3.64 billion. Sales at stores open for at least a year fell 4.2 percent.
Lawsuits take aim at warranty scam
WASHINGTON — Regulators filed suits Thursday against companies they say are behind a national wave of spam "robo-calls" that warn people their car warranties are expiring and offer new service plans.
The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to halt the illegal telemarketing.
The FTC named Voice Touch Inc. and Transcontinental Warranty Inc. in the suits. It is seeking injunctions forcing them to return allegedly ill-gotten gains.