Dow component Procter & Gamble (Fortune 500) reported mixed quarterly results, but maintained its outlook for the full year. Rival consumer products maker , Colgate (Fortune 500) said earnings rose in the past quarter, even as sales declined. Colgate also announced a restructuring plan that includes cutting its workforce by 6% over the next four years. ,
Unilever (, another consumer name, reported solid third-quarter results as growth in emerging markets offset weakness in developed economies. )
ConocoPhillips (Fortune 500) said earnings fell 31% in the third quarter as oil prices sank. ,
On the economic front, the government said initial jobless claims fell to 369,000 in the week ended October 20, down from 392,000 in the previous week. Economists had expected claims to fall to 375,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.
The Census Bureau said new orders for durable goods rose 9.9% in September, up for the fifth month in a row. Durable goods orders were expected to have increased by 8%.
U.S. stocks closed slightly lower Wednesday, after trading in a narrow range for most of the day.
In Europe, the UK government reported that the gross domestic product grew 1% in the third quarter, lifting the nation's economy out of recession.
Meanwhile, Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.7%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.2%. The Nikkei jumped 1.1% on hopes the Bank of Japan will ease monetary policy when it meets next week.
Companies: Zynga ( shares surged 18% in premarket trading, after the social gaming firm ) reported sales on Wednesday that topped forecasts. Zynga also announced a partnership with bwin.party, an international gaming operator that will enable real money casino games like poker, slots and roulette in the UK.
Shares of F5 Networks ( sank 11% ahead of the bell, after the network technology firm reported quarterly earnings Wednesday that missed expectations. )
Meanwhile, online security firm Symantec (Fortune 500) jumped 10% in premarket trading, after offering strong guidance for the current quarter. ,
Oil for December delivery rose 75 cents to $86.47 a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery rose $15.60 to $1,717.40 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.843% from 1.78% late Wednesday.
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