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Stocks mixed...Jobless claims up...Durable goods orders rise...GM profits plunge

Thursday - 4/24/2014, 11:40am  ET

NEW YORK (AP) -- The major indexes are little changed in the early going on Wall Street as mixed earnings news from big U.S. companies leaves investors searching for direction. Raytheon fell 5 percent after its first-quarter results fell short of expectations. Apple led the technology sector higher after announcing a big earnings gain, a stock split and a dividend increase. Caterpillar also rose after beating analysts' forecasts.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department says the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits surged by 24,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 329,000, though the gain likely reflects temporary layoffs. Applications can be volatile around Easter, because many school systems temporarily lay off bus drivers, cafeteria workers and other employees during spring break and some of those workers file for unemployment benefits. The less volatile four-week average rose 4,750 to 316,750.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods have posted a solid gain for the second straight month. The Commerce Department says orders for durable goods increased 2.6 percent in March following a 2.1 percent rise in February. The back-to-back gains followed two big declines in December and January. Demand for core goods, a key category that signals business investment plans, rose 2.2 percent last month.

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors says its first-quarter profit fell 86 percent as a series of recalls dragged down its earnings. GM had a net profit of $125 million, the company's worst quarterly performance since it posted a net loss after leaving bankruptcy protection in 2009. The Detroit automaker says it took a $1.3 billion charge for recalling about 7 million vehicles worldwide. It also incurred $300 million in restructuring costs, mostly in Europe, and took a $419 million charge due to a change in the way it values Venezuela's currency.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average rates on fixed mortgages are up this week with the spring home-buying season beginning. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate for the 30-year loan rose to 4.33 percent from 4.27 percent last week. The average for the 15-year mortgage increased to 3.39 percent from 3.33 percent. Mortgage rates have risen almost a full percentage point since hitting record lows about a year ago.

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