Stocks open mixed as Europe holds off on stimulus

MATTHEW CRAFT AP Business Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market wobbled between small gains and losses in early trading Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 18 points at 13,016 a half hour after the opening bell.

Boeing led the Dow lower, sliding 1.2 percent. United Airlines said a failed electrical generator in one of its new Boeing 787s caused the plan to make an emergency landing in New Orleans, shortly after taking off from Houston.

Europe's Central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged. Though rates remain at record lows, European unemployment continue to rise. The central bank cut its growth forecast for next year from positive to negative.

The Labor Department said unemployment benefits applications dropped 25,000 last week to 370,000, a level consistent with modest hiring. The decline was also a sign that the spike in applications caused by Superstorm Sandy has faded.

The report comes a day before the government releases its closely watched jobs survey. Private economists forecast that hiring in November sank sharply from the previous month. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 7.9 percent. Some economists say the storm could cause the Labor Department's hiring figures to be much lower.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped two points to 1,407. The Nasdaq composite slipped one point at 2,973.

H&R Block jumped 4 percent after posting revenue and earnings that beat analysts' estimates. The country's largest tax preparation company reported a smaller loss, helped by cost-cutting efforts. It typically turns in a loss in the August-to-October period because it takes in most of its revenue during the U.S. tax season. H&R Block gained 77 cents to $18.14.

Apple dropped $2.30 to $536.34. In separate interviews, CEO Tim Cook said Apple will produce one of its existing lines of Mac computers in the United States next year and will spend $100 million in 2013 to shift production of the line from China. The news comes a day after Apple's stock took its worst fall in four years, erasing $35 million from its market value.

Lululemon Athletica fell $1.21 to $67.38. The Canadian yoga wear maker said it expects sales growth to slow. Its fourth-quarter earnings and revenue forecasts also came in below Wall Street's expectations.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the 10-year note slipped to 1.57 percent. That's down from 1.59 percent late Wednesday.

For the month, the S&P 500 is down 0.5 percent and the Dow is up 0.1 percent. The Nasdaq has lost 1.2 percent.