Summary

The major equity indexes ended little changed on Wall Street on Thursday as a deal between Sears and Amazon weighed on home improvement retailers while gains in Regeneron and Microsoft buoyed the Nasdaq.

Retailers and appliance makers fell after Sears announced that it would sell its Kenmore home appliances on Amazon and integrate the brand’s smart gadgets with the online giant’s Alexa digital assistant.

Sears was up 10.6 percent at $9.60 and Amazon shares rose 0.2 percent. Home Depot fell 4.1 percent, shaving off 40 points off the Dow and weighing the most on the S&P 500. Lowes and Best Buy also felt the pressure.

Microsoft rose 0.9 percent in after-hours trading to $74.89 after it reported a quarterly earnings number that more than doubled, helped by a tax benefit and strong growth in its cloud business.

Overall earnings continue to beat expectations and major indexes closed Thursday at or near all-time highs. Analysts are estimating an 8.6 percent rise in second-quarter earnings and a 4.6 percent increase in revenue for the S&P 500 companies from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The markets did not react to the White House’s announcement it had withdrawn or removed from consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration.

T-Mobile gained as much as 3.3 percent after the wireless carrier’s quarterly numbers exceeded analysts’ estimates, but reversed course in the afternoon and closed down 1.4 percent at $61.12.

Verizon rose 1.8 percent and AT&T added 1.1 percent.

Qualcomm fell 4.9 percent after the chipmaker’s forecast missed estimates and several Apple suppliers filed a lawsuit accusing Qualcomm of improperly charging license fees in the assembly of iPhones.

Property and casualty insurer Travelers fell 1.5 percent after reporting a drop in quarterly earnings.

Approximately 5.92 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, as compared to the 6.35 billion share daily average over the last 20 sessions.

Jobless Claims Fall

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, touching its lowest level in nearly five months, suggesting another month of strong job growth.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 for the week ended July 15, the Labor Department said on Thursday. That was the lowest level since February, when claims fell to 227,000, which was the best reading since March 1973.

Data for the prior week was revised to show 1,000 more applications received than previously reported.

It was the 124th straight week that claims remained below 300,000, a threshold associated with a robust labor market. That is the longest such stretch since 1970, when the labor market was smaller. The labor market is near full employment, with the jobless rate at 4.4 percent.

Claims are volatile early in the summer when automakers shut assembly plants for annual retooling. A Labor Department official said there were no special factors influencing the claims data and that no states had been estimated.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, fell 2,250 to 243,750 last week.

Last week’s claims data covered the survey period for July’s nonfarm payrolls. The four-week average of claims fell by 1,250 claims between the June and July survey periods, suggesting strong job gains in July.

Thursday’s claims report also showed the number of people still receiving benefits after an initial week of aid rose 28,000 to 1.98 million in the week ended July 8. The so-called continuing claims have now been below 2 million for 14 straight weeks, pointing to decreasing slack in the labor market.

The four-week moving average of continuing claims increased 8,750 to 1.96 million, remaining below the 2 million for 12consecutive weeks.

Good News at Microsoft

Microsoft reported a better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue, helped by a strong performance in its fast-growing cloud business.

The company’s shares rose as much as 1.5 percent in after-hours trading. They had touched a record high of $74.30 in regular trading.

Microsoft said revenue from its cloud unit, which includes the flagship Azure platform and server products, rose about 11 percent to $7.43 billion in the fourth quarter.

Revenue from Azure nearly doubled in the quarter. bit. The service competes with Amazon’s Web Services as well as offerings from Alphabet’s Google, IBM and Oracle.

Microsoft has sharpened its focus on the fast-growing cloud computing unit as part of Chief Executive Satya Nadella’s “mobile first, cloud first” strategy to offset weakness in the PC market.

The company’s net income more than doubled to $6.51 billion, or 83 cents per share, in the quarter ended June 30 from $3.12 billion, or 39 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding one-time items, Microsoft earned 98 cents per share. On an adjusted basis, revenue rose 9.1 percent to $24.7 billion.

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