* Exxon falls after profit drops
* Colgate profit matches view, shares dip
* Indexes: Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
By Edward Krudy
NEW YORK, April 26 Wall Street stalled on
Thursday following the Nasdaq's biggest gains this year as new
jobless claims missed forecasts in another sign that recent
improvement in the labor market may be easing.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped by
1,000 to 388,000, while analysts expected 375,000 filings. The
prior week's number was revised up.
"They came in a lot higher than expected, which probably is
raising a bit of concern again," said Phil Flynn, senior market
analyst with PFG Best in Chicago. "We'll be in the slog for a
while and obviously stocks took a little tumble on it. This
could take some momentum away."
The worry over the economy came as stronger-than-expected
earnings, most prominently from Apple Inc, helped drive
stocks higher. Of the 200 S&P 500 companies reporting,
three-fourths have topped estimates, according to Thomson
Reuters data as of Wednesday.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 21.87 points,
or 0.17 percent, at 13,112.59. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was down 0.51 points, or 0.04 percent, at 1,390.18. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 5.72 points, or 0.19
percent, at 3,035.35.
Wednesday's rally helped purged much of the losses incurred
earlier in April, when investors worried about market prospects
ahead of a seasonally weak period starting in May as well as
signs Europe's debt crisis was getting worse.
The S&P 500 was back above its 50-day moving average after
the level was fiercely contested. Stocks pulled back as much as
4.2 percent from yearly highs in early April.
"Despite a very shaky start to April the S&P is only down
1-1/4 percent through yesterday's close," said Oliver Pursche,
president at Gary Goldberg Financial Services in Suffern, New
York. "It could actually be a flat month, which would be
terrific if you think about where we stood three weeks ago."
Earnings season was in full swing as Exxon Mobil Corp
, the world's largest publicly traded oil company, posted
lower profit on slumping oil and gas production. Shares were off
1.5 percent to $85.57.
Health insurer Aetna Inc reported
lower-than-expected profit after higher claim costs and
administrative expenses. The shares fell 0.7 percent to $44.10.
Colgate-Palmolive Co posted higher income and sales.
Earnings matched estimates, while sales topped expectations. The
shares fell 0.6 percent to $99.
PepsiCo Inc took off 0.3 percent at $66.48 after it
reported a smaller dip in earnings than estimated. The soft
drink and snack maker stood by its 2012 outlook.
Whirlpool Corp, the world's largest appliance maker,
reported better-than-estimated net, relying on price increases
and cost cuts to combat weak demand. The shares rose 0.7 percent
In another troubling sign from the euro zone, economic
sentiment fell more than forecast in April as the region's
economy sank into recession.
European equity markets slipped into negative territory
after the data reignited concerns about the economy against a
backdrop of mixed corporate earnings. The FTSEurofirst 300
fell 0.2 percent.
An important earnings report came from overseas. U.S.-traded
shares of Spanish bank Santander fell 3.7 percent to
$6.28 after net profit dropped 24 percent after a provision of
3.1 billion euro ($4.1 billion) to cover rising loan defaults.