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Stocks mostly lower...Jobless claims drop...Gas prices push inflation up slightly

Thursday - 1/16/2014, 11:40am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks have started the trading day lower on Wall Street. Retailers and railroad operators are among the biggest decliners in as investors react to weak earnings reports. Best Buy plunged more than 25 percent after its holiday sales disappointed investors, while shares of CSX have dropped 7 percent after the railway operator released a week earnings report last night.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jobless claims are down again. The Labor Department says the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 2,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 326,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped 13,500 to 335,000. More than 4.7 million Americans collected benefits at the end of last year, a figure that has declined by almost 1.2 million over the past 12 months.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Higher gasoline prices push the consumer price index higher last month. The Labor Department says it rose a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent. However, when the volatile food and energy categories are excluded, inflation was tame 0.1 percent. For the year, consumer prices rose just 1.5 percent. That's below the Federal Reserve's target of 2 percent.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two big banks are offering mixed earnings news. Citigroup is reporting fourth-quarter earnings increased 21 percent, but the results fell short of analysts' expectations as its bond and mortgage businesses weakened. Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs says its fourth-quarter profit dropped 21 percent, though per share earnings beat expectations. Both banks saw their bond and mortgage businesses weaken.

UNDATED (AP) -- UnitedHealth Group says its fourth-quarter earnings rose 15 percent, topping Wall Street expectations. The nation's largest health insurer booked a sizeable gain from a business that doesn't sell insurance. However, UnitedHealth shares have slipped more than 2 percent, with investors worried that funding for Medicare Advantage plans could be scaled back to help pay for the new health care law.

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