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North American stocks dipped slightly at the start of trading on Thursday, following some high-profile earnings reports, the latest snapshot of U.S. jobless claims, and persistent concerns about Europe's sovereign-debt crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 46 points or 0.4 per cent, to 12,893. The broader S&P 500 fell 4 points or 0.3 per cent, to 1,354. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 14 points or 0.1 per cent, to 12,687.

The moves follow a benign reading of weekly U.S. jobless claims, which came in at 351,000 for the period ended last week – in line with expectations and hovering at a four-year low.

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However, some earnings weighed on sentiment. Hewlett-Packard Co. fell 6.7 per cent after reporting quarterly results and delivering a disappointing forecast for the second quarter. Intel Corp. fell 1.2 per cent, but Microsoft Corp. was steady.

Among Canadian stocks, Loblaw Cos. Ltd. fell 4.2 per cent after it reported a gain in quarterly earnings that was shy of analysts' expectations. The company earned $174-million or 60 cents a share, up from 58 cents a share last year.

Rona Inc. fell 1.3 per cent after it reported a loss of $151-million in the fourth quarter.

But the reaction to Sears Holdings Corp. was considerably better: The shares jumped 14.9 per cent after it reported a $2.4-billion (U.S.) loss but announced plans to revamp the struggling retailer, including layoffs and store spinoffs.

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About the Author
Investing Reporter

David Berman has been writing about business and investing since 1995. He has written for a number of magazines, including Canadian Business and MoneySense. He worked at the Financial Post as an investing writer and daily columnist before moving to the Globe and Mail in 2008. More

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