By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global stock markets inched higher while U.S. debt prices fell on Thursday following unexpectedly low U.S. weekly jobless claims and stronger-than-expected U.S. earnings from companies including Facebook.
The benchmark S&P 500 index closed at a record high for a second session in a row, buoyed by data showing initial jobless claims in the world's largest economy dropped to their lowest in more than eight years.
"The lower-than-expected U.S. initial jobless claims has made people focus on the improving labor market situation," said Ian Lyngen, senior government bond strategist, at CRT Capital in Stamford, Connecticut.
But data showing sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell by the biggest amount since July 2013 offset some of the positive news. The stock of homebuilder D.R. Horton, which also reported results, sank 11.5 percent to $21.94, while the PHLX Housing Index was down 2.7 percent.
The biggest boost to the S&P 500 came from Facebook, whose market value shot up to $190 billion. The stock rose 5.2 percent to $74.98 and hit an intraday record high of $76.74, a day after reporting a surge in mobile advertising revenue.
General Motors dropped 4.5 percent to $35.74 after reporting a much smaller-than-expected quarterly profit.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 2.83 points or 0.02 percent, to 17,083.8, while the S&P 500 gained 0.97 points or 0.05 percent, to 1,987.98, a record closing high. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.59 points or 0.04 percent, to 4,472.11.
MSCI's All-World Index was up 0.1 percent, while European stocks ended up 0.5 percent.
Other data showed the euro zone's private sector expanded at the fastest rate in three months in July.
The data helped the euro hold above an eight-month low versus the U.S. dollar. The euro was at an eight-month low of $1.3448 on the EBS trading system before rebounding to a session high of $1.34855 after the data. The single currency was last $1.3463, little changed from Wednesday's U.S. close.
Russian debt insurance costs rose after European Union leaders proposed sanctions on Russian banks which are majority-owned by the government. Those measures were proposed after a Malaysia Airlines plane was downed over Ukraine last week, killing 298, possibly by a missile furnished by Russia.
Ten-year U.S. Treasuries were down 13/32 in price to yield 2.510 percent. The yield hit a peak of 2.518 percent, the highest since July 18.
Crude oil prices ran into renewed selling on a weaker demand outlook in Europe. Brent crude for September delivery fell 96 cents to $107.07 a barrel. U.S. crude lost $1.05 to settle at $102.07.
Gold hit its lowest level in a month, with spot gold last down 1.1 percent at $1,289.6 an ounce.
(Additional reporting by Carolyn Cohn, Marc Jones and Anirban Nag in London, Wayne Cole in Sydney, Richard Leong, Rodrigo Campos and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish, Bernadette Baum, Nick Zieminski and Diane Craft)
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