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Facebook, Ford and GM earnings; Getting paid for social media posts; Weekly jobless claims

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The number of people applying for first-time unemployment benefits dropped to is lowest level in more than eight years. The Labor Department reported that 284,000 people applied for initial jobless claims last week. That’s the lowest level since February 2006. Analysts had expected 310,000 people to apply for jobless claims.

Wal-Mart (WMT) announced this morning that Bill Simon, the president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S., will leave his role and transition out of the company. Greg Foran, the president and CEO of Wal-Mart in Asia, will replace him. Foran will assume his new role on August 9. Simon will stay with Wal-Mart as advisor for six months.

Earnings season continues with more big names reporting results. Ford (F) reported second quarter earnings that beat expectations driven by record profits in North America, strong results in Asia and its first profit in Europe in three years. Meanwhile, at General Motors (GM), profit fell more than 80% due to the costs related to the long list of recalls this year. The company took $1.5 billion in charges related to those recalls and is setting up a victims' compensation fund for accidents related to faulty ignition switches. Facebook (FB) said its profits more than doubled from a year ago thanks to a surge in mobile ads, which accounted for about 62% of its ad revenue in the second quarter.

Facebook users don't get a cut of its revenue for the cute baby pictures and cat photos they post, but a couple of new social networks are trying to change that. Bubblews and Bonzo Me have models that pay users a portion of the company's ad revenue based on the popularity of posts. Bubblews CEO Arvind Dixit said users shouldn’t quit their day jobs in anticipation of making a living on income from Bubblews, but he told the Associated Press, “We are trying to be fair with our users. Social networks don’t have to be places where you feel like you’re being exploited.”

Amazon (AMZN) is scheduled to report 2Q results after the close today. Analysts expect a rise in sales, but a loss of $0.15 a share. On Monday, Citigroup lowered Amazon's price target and downgraded the stock from "buy" to "neutral" because of an April price cut for Amazon Web Services - its cloud-computing service.