Stocks mixed…Jobless claims lowest in more than 8 years…New home sales plunge

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are mixed in early trading on Wall Street as several big companies report second-quarter earnings. Facebook rose 5 percent after its earnings beat expectations. Caterpillar fell 2.7 percent after the construction equipment maker said quarterly profits rose a better-than-expected 4.1 percent, but revenue fell short of forecasts.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits has fallen to its lowest level in more than eight years. The Labor Department says weekly applications dropped by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000. That’s the lowest reading since February 2006, nearly two years before the recession began. The less volatile four-week average declined by 7,250 to 302,000.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Real estate continues to be a weak spot in the economy. The Commerce Department says new home sales fell 8.1 percent in June, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 406,000. The report also revised down the May sales rate to 442,000 from 504,000. Sales fell 20 percent in the Northeast, followed by less extreme declines in the Midwest, South and West. The inventory of new homes on the market increased to 5.8 months, the highest since October 2011.

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford’s second-quarter net income rose 6 percent to $1.3 billion as the company saw record profits in North America and made money in Europe for the first time in three years. The profit of 32 cents per share was up from 30 cents per share in the April-June period a year ago. Meanwhile, General Motors says second-quarter profit fell 85 percent as recall costs chopped $1.5 billion from the bottom line. The automaker posted a net profit of $190 million, or 11 cents per share. A year ago GM made $1.26 billion, or 75 cents per share.

UNDATED (AP) — U.S. airlines are flying high. Southwest Airlines is reporting a record profit for the second quarter, more than doubling what it earned a year ago. United Airlines’ net income in the second quarter hit $789 million, topping Wall Street expectations. United was the only major U.S. carrier to report a loss in the first quarter. Profit and revenue are up at American Airlines, and the company says it will pay its first dividend since 1980. It will also buy back up to $1 billion in shares, and spend money to pay off debt and aircraft leases.

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