Stocks finished mostly higher on Thursday as investors weighed earnings reports from a range of major companies along with new employment data. First-time unemployment claims fell to 290,000, down from the prior week and below consensus. Continuing claims dropped to 2.481 million from 2.603 million a week earlier, and were also below the consensus forecast. Housing data was strong. The National Association of Realtors said that sales of existing homes rose 7% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.29 million, up from a decline of 2% in August and above the consensus estimate calling for 3.7% growth. The Dow fell 0.02%, the S&P rose 0.30%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.62%. Crude oil fell 1% to $82.50 per barrel, while gold fell slightly to $1784 per ounce.
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