U.S. stocks edged mostly lower in early trading Thursday, as investors sized up a mix of corporate earnings and economic news.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average gained 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,206 as of 9:54 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,996. The Nasdaq composite shed 27 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,610.
SECTOR WATCH: Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, with energy stocks declining the most. The sector is down 6.6 percent this year. Materials stocks bucked the trend. Qualcomm dropped the most among stocks in the S&P 500, shedding $6.62, or 9.3 percent, to $64.34. Harman International Industries led among the gainers, rising $15.93, or 15.8 percent, to $116.98.
HAPPY MEAL: McDonald's stock climbed 3 percent following news late Wednesday that its CEO is stepping down. The stock added $2.87 to $91.65.
ALIBABA ALARM: A scathing report by regulators in China claimed e-commerce giant Alibaba failed to prevent fake goods from being sold on its websites. Further muddying the water was a disclosure that the report was delayed to avoid affecting Alibaba's $25 billion New York stock market listing. The developments pushed Alibaba's share price down $10.75, or 10.9 percent, to $87.76.
EMPLOYMENT BELLWETHER: Before the market opened, the U.S. government reported that weekly claims for unemployment benefits dropped to 15-year low last week.
OVER THERE: European markets were mixed. Germany's DAX and France's CAC-40 were flat. Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.2 percent. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent. The Shanghai Composite shed 1.3 percent, while South Korea's Kospi declined 0.5 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.3 percent. Markets in Southeast Asia were mostly lower.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 29 cents to $44.76 a barrel in New York. The contract lost $1.78 on Wednesday to close at $44.45, the lowest level since March 2009, after the Energy Department reported that U.S. oil inventories rose to their highest levels ever recorded.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 118.06 yen from 117.73 yen the previous day. The euro rose to $1.1306 from $1.1286.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.75 percent from 1.72 percent late Wednesday.
AP Business Writer Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this story.
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