Investors are entering the final two days of the trading week looking for some direction after yesterday's ho-hum day on Wall Street. The S&P 500 index ended Wednesday with only a fractional gain, closing at 1,970. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 32 points to 16,880 and the Nasdaq composite rose 20 points ending the day at 4,462.
- Global stock markets are uninspired by yesterday's upbeat report on the U.S. economy, with most drifting lower today after the U.S. Federal Reserve said it would make further cuts to its monetary stimulus as expected. Markets closed down in Tokyo and South Korea. Stocks in Hong Kong's Hang Seng and China's Shanghai Composite closed up. In early trading, markets are down in Germany, Britain and France. Wall Street futures also are down.
- Two government economic reports are due out today. The Labor Department will release the number of people who filed unemployment claims last week and will issue its second-quarter employment cost index. Freddie Mac will report weekly mortgage rates. Also today, MasterCard, Exxon Mobil, LinkedIn and Tesla Motors will release their quarterly earnings.
- Samsung Electronics says its second-quarter profit dropped 20 percent as smartphone and tablet sales fell. The South Korean company says its net income during the April-June quarter was $6.1 billion, the lowest since the second quarter of 2012 and below forecasts. Samsung is struggling to compete in the cheap smartphone business, which is the fastest-growing smartphone segment.
- Facebook's Internet.org project is taking another step toward its goal of bringing the Internet to people who are not yet online with an app launching today in Zambia. The Internet.org app will give subscribers of Zambia's Airtel phone company access to a set of basic Internet services for free. Users of the app won't incur the data charges that can be prohibitive for many people in developing nations