Stocks finished the session mixed Thursday as investors mulled whether a jumble of weak economic reports could end the Federal Reserve's streak of interest rate hikes.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 13.85, or 0.1 percent, to 10,558.75. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.57, or 0.1 percent, to 1,227.73. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.18, or 0.2 percent, to 2,146.15.
Factory activity in the Mid-Atlantic region stalled in early September as new orders dived and costs doubled. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's business activity index plunged in September, ending below economists' forecasts.
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina led to the biggest jump in initial claims for jobless aid in nearly 10 years. The Consumer Price Index jumped 0.5 percent in August, but the core index moved up just 0.1 percent, the Labor Department said. Traders hope signs of a weakening economy will cause the Fed to curb its interest rate hikes when the central bank's Open Market Committee meets next Tuesday.
Among local companies, shares of Amgen Inc. rose 1.5 percent, to $83.58 after the Thousand Oaks-based biotechnology company was raised to "buy" from "hold" by analyst Jennifer Chao at Deutsche Bank. Chao's share-price forecast was increased to $102 from $80, as the analyst said the company may benefit from Aranesp for heart failure and its drug to treat osteoporosis.
Staar Surgical Co. gained 2.3 percent to $5.71 after the Monrovia-based ophthalmic products developer said it believed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was unlikely to pursue enforcement action against the company based on a Wednesday inspection of its main manufacturing plant. The inspection was related to Staar's effort to win approval for its Visian implantable contact lens.
On the down side, shares of Spanish-language media giants Univision Communications Inc. and Entravision Communications Corp. slipped after Miller Tabak + Co. LLC analyst David C. Joyce initiated coverage of both of the L.A.-area companies, rating them "buy." L.A.-based Univision fell 0.2 percent to $25.52, while Santa Monica-based Entravision dipped 0.4 percent to $7.42.
DirecTV Group Inc. sunk 4.5 percent to $15.14 after the El Segundo-based company's stock rating was as downgraded to "underperform" from "market perform" by analyst Craig Moffett at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. The price target was set at $14.50 per share.
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