US stocks inch higher on earnings, merger news

SHARE US stocks inch higher on earnings, merger news

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks are inching higher in afternoon trading Thursday as traders respond to generally positive corporate earnings results. DreamWorks soared on a report that Hasbro is trying to buy the movie company. The price of oil fell to a four-year low.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose less than one point to 2,038 as of 12:58 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,649. The Nasdaq composite rose 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,689.

EARNINGS: Wal-Mart Stores jumped $3.45, or 4 percent, to $82.65, after reporting earnings and revenue that were higher than what financial analysts had expected. Media conglomerate Viacom, which owns the Paramount studio, MTV and VH1, rose $3.42, or 5 percent, to $72.67 after its results topped forecasts.

TOY TIE-UP: Shares of DreamWorks Animation surged $3.47, or 16 percent, to $25.84 on a New York Times report that the toy maker Hasbro was in “advanced talks” to buy the movie company. Both Hasbro and DreamWorks, known for movie franchises “Shrek” and “Madagascar,” said they do not comment on rumors or speculation.

BUFFETT BUYS BATTERIES: Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway is buying the Duracell battery business from Procter & Gamble in a deal valued at about $3 billion. Berkshire rose 0.3 percent. P&G, the world’s biggest consumer products maker, slipped 0.6 percent.

THE QUOTE: “There’s continued strength in M&A combined with lower energy prices is construction for equities,” said Jim Russell, a portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor, an investment firm.

BURYING THE HATCHET WITH HACHETTE: Amazon rose 1.5 percent following news that it had resolved a bitter, long-running dispute with the book publisher Hachette. Amazon rose $4.58 to $316.10.

HIRING SURGE: More people were hired in September than any month since the start of the recession nearly seven years ago, the Labor Department reported. More than 5 million people got jobs, the most since December 2007. And people are also quitting more, suggesting many are confident now of getting work elsewhere, and possibly for higher pay. The number of people who quit their jobs jumped to 2.75 million, the most in more than six years.

EUROPE: Germany’s DAX and Britain’s FTSE 100 each gained 0.4 percent. France’s CAC-40 rose 0.2 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell sharply on expectations of strong supplies, shedding $20.09, or 2.7 percent, to $75.09 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The price is at a four-year low as supplies rise.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note held steady at 2.36 percent.

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