North American stocks dipped slightly at the start of trading on Thursday, following some high-profile earnings reports, the latest snapshot of U.S. jobless claims, and persistent concerns about Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 46 points or 0.4 per cent, to 12,893. The broader S&P 500 fell 4 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1,354. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 14 points or 0.1 per cent, to 12,687.
The moves follow a benign reading of weekly U.S. jobless claims, which came in at 351,000 for the period ended last week – in line with expectations and hovering at a four-year low.
However, some earnings weighed on sentiment. Hewlett-Packard Co. fell 6.7 per cent after reporting quarterly results and delivering a disappointing forecast for the second quarter. Intel Corp. fell 1.2 per cent, but Microsoft Corp. was steady.
Among Canadian stocks, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. fell 4.2 per cent after it reported a gain in quarterly earnings that was shy of analysts’ expectations. The company earned $174-million or 60 cents a share, up from 58 cents a share last year.
Rona Inc. fell 1.3 per cent after it reported a loss of $151-million in the fourth quarter.
But the reaction to Sears Holdings Corp. was considerably better: The shares jumped 14.9 per cent after it reported a $2.4-billion (U.S.) loss but announced plans to revamp the struggling retailer, including layoffs and store spinoffs.