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February 21, 2013 05:50 PM

Thursday Evening Business Brief

A weak set of economic data released today has sent stocks lower on Wall Street. The government said more people applied for unemployment benefits last week, while a survey of European business executives suggested the continent's economy continues to slow. The Dow lost 47 points to close at 13,881, while the S&P fell more than nine points to 1,502, and the Nasdaq lost 33 to 3,131.

  • Slumping personal computer maker Hewlett-Packard is showing signs of progress. The computer maker announced its fiscal first-quarter results after the market closed this afternoon. While HP's earnings dropped 16 percent, that was better than what market analysts and the company's own management had forecast.
  • Holiday shopping helped Nordstrom to a 20 percent gain in net income for the fourth-quarter. High-end spending has stayed strong despite the uncertain economy. Meanwhile, American International Group also reported fourth quarter results after the markets closed, and the insurance giant appears to have been hit hard by Superstorm Sandy. AIG posted a $4 billion loss in the fourth quarter.
  • Oil prices have fallen again and that's raising hopes that the relentless rise in gasoline prices could ease. Crude oil futures prices ended lower on the New York Mercantile Exchange for a second day. The near-month contract for the benchmark grade fell $2.38 -- closing at $92.84 a barrel.
  • The average U.S. rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week but it remains near historic lows. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average rate on the 30-year loan increased to 3.56 percent from 3.53 percent last week. It hit an all-time low near the 3.31 percent in November. The average rate on the 15-year fixed mortgage stayed at 2.77 percent.
  • Business
  • Economy/Stocks