Stocks dropping on mixed news on profits, economy

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are closing slightly lower as investors weigh stronger corporate earnings against disappointing economic reports.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 69 points to close at 12,964 Thursday. The S&P 500 dropped 8 points to 1,377. The Nasdaq composite fell 24 points to 3,008.

Morgan Stanley rose 2.3 percent after it beat Wall Street's earnings and revenue estimates. UnitedHealth Group, eBay and Southwest Airlines also beat forecasts.

Stock indexes fell after a regional manufacturing index dropped sharply, and the National Association of Realtors said home sales fell 2.6 percent last month.

Earlier, the Labor Department said applications for unemployment benefits dipped 2,000 to 386,000. When the number is above 375,000, investors take it as a sign that hiring isn't strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.


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