* Caterpillar weighs on Dow, extending recent selloff
* Facebook's best daily percentage gain boosts Nasdaq
* China's growth a concern as manufacturing weakens
* U.S. jobless claims rise modestly in latest week
* Dow flat, S&P 500 up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 25 U.S. stocks edged higher on
Thursday, rebounding off earlier weakness as strength in
technology companies, especially Facebook, lifted the Nasdaq.
The Dow and the S&P 500 were held back by disappointing
earnings in the cyclical sector. Concerns about China's growth
also took a toll on investor sentiment.
Caterpillar Inc extended its steep drop in
Wednesday's session, which came after the heavy machinery maker
cut its 2013 earnings forecast. The stock slid 2 percent to
$81.81 and ranked as the Dow's second-biggest percentage
Facebook Inc scored its biggest daily percentage
gain ever - up as much as 28.3 percent at a session high of $34.
In afternoon trading, the stock was up 27.3 percent at $33.74.
Facebook topped the Nasdaq's list of most actively traded stocks
a day after the online social network company reported a big
jump in mobile advertising revenue.
General Motors and Dow Chemical reported
profits that exceeded expectations, but that was not enough to
give the broad stock market a major push into positive
territory. GM's stock fell 0.8 percent to $36.83, after touching
a two-hear high of $37.70. Dow Chemical rose 1.7 percent to
Stocks have advanced steadily this year, with the S&P 500
up 18 percent in 2013, after hitting a number of record closing
highs. For July, the benchmark index has gained 4.7 percent.
"It's positive that markets are holding in relatively well,
given how strong the month has been," said Mitch Rubin, chief
investment officer of RiverPark Advisors in New York. "To the
extent that earnings continue to be strong, that helps to take
off some of the perception that we've gone too far, too fast."
With 47 percent of the S&P 500 companies having reported
earnings so far, about 68 percent have topped profit forecasts,
above the historical average of 63 percent. About 56 percent
have reported better-than-expected revenue, a rate that is under
the historical average.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.16 points,
or 0.01 percent, at 15,543.40. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 1.69 points, or 0.10 percent, at 1,687.63. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 19.44 points, or 0.54
percent, at 3,599.04.
Increasing worries about slowing growth in China also made
U.S. investors nervous. A major index of Chinese stocks
suffered its second straight loss on Thursday despite measures
from China's government to spur the economy, including help for
exports and railway investment. Data on Wednesday showed
manufacturing in China running at an 11-month low in July.
"Companies that are centered around macro issues like China
are proving to be controversial bets right now, given all the
fears out there," said Rubin, who helps oversee $2.1 billion.
Shares of manufacturer 3M Co, a Dow component, rose
0.2 percent to $116.59 after the company's results.
The tech sector, particularly online companies, provided a
bright spot in Thursday's session.
TripAdvisor Inc jumped 16 percent to $70.92 a day
after reporting a jump in quarterly profit and revenue from its
travel website. The stock was the S&P 500's second-biggest
percentage gainer in afternoon trading.
Weekly U.S. jobless claims rose to 343,000 in the latest
week from 334,000 in the previous week. Analysts were looking
for a read of 340,000.
New orders for durable goods rose 4.2 percent in June, far
stronger than the 1.3 percent growth rate that had been
forecast. Markets had little reaction to the data.
In Europe, shares fell as a raft of mixed results from blue
chips and lingering concerns about the pace of growth in China
triggered a bout of profit taking following recent sharp gains.