The stock market was quiet on Thursday and a gap lower on the major averages at the open had been closed by the end of the day.
The Dow recorded a very small loss on the session while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq notched modest gains. In deal news, H.J. Heinz agreed to be acquired by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital for $72.50 per share.
U.S. Airways and bankrupt AMR Corp. also agreed to an $11 billion merger deal, creating the world's largest airlines.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost around 10 points, or 0.07 percent, to 13,973.
The S&P 500 added 1 point, or 0.07 percent, to 1,521.
The Nasdaq Composite was higher by almost 2 points, or 0.06 percent, to 3,199.
Initial jobless claims fell from 368,000 for the week ending February 2 to 341,000 for the week ending February 9. This is the lowest level of initial claims since February 2008 and was well below consensus estimates calling for a decline to 365,000.
Continuing claims fell from 3.244 million for the week ending January 26 to 3.114 million for the week ending February 2. The consensus estimate had been for a fall to 3.200 million.
Crude oil was slightly higher near the close of equity trading on Thursday. NYMEX crude futures, the U.S. benchmark, were last up around 0.39 percent to $97.39 while Brent contracts had added 0.19 percent to $118.10. Natural gas fell sharply on the session and was last down more than 4 percent to $3.17.
Gold and silver fell on Thursday with COMEX gold futures last trading down 0.57 percent to $1,635.80. Silver had lost 1.37 percent and was trading at $30.45. Copper was very marginally higher on the day.
In the agricultural complex, corn and wheat were both lower by less than 0.50 percent. Sugar fell more than two percent on the day while cocoa and coffee were moderately lower and orange juice concentrate and cotton were higher by less than one percent.
Late in the trading day, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) was up 0.84 percent as money moved into U.S. Treasuries. The move higher in prices forced yields down on the day.
The 2-Year Note yield fell one basis point to 0.26 percent while the 5-Year yield lost five basis points to 0.86 percent.
The yields on the 10-Year Note and 30-Year Bond lost three and five basis points to 2.00 percent and 3.18 percent, respectively.
The PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was up 0.32 percent late on Thursday. A stronger dollar helped to cap risk appetite on the day.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair lost 0.77 percent and was last trading at $1.3346. The dollar was slightly lower against the yen on the session with the USD/JPY last trading down 0.21 percent.
Volatility and Volume
Volatility expectations were lower on Thursday despite a lower euro and a stock market that went nowhere. On the session, the VIX lost around 2.50 percent to 12.65.
Volume remained unusually low on the session. Only around 63 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 133 million.
Constellation Brands (STZ) soared the most in 27 years on Thursday after the company agreed to purchase the perpetual rights to import and distribute Grupo Modelo brand beers including Corona in the United States. As part of the transaction, Constellation also will Grupo Modelo's Piedras Negras brewery.
The deal was struck to help Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) complete its acquisition of Grupo Modelo. Regulators had previously sued to squash the transaction, citing antitrust concerns. Constellation shares added around 36 percent while AB InBev was up 5 percent.
H.J. Heinz (HNZ), the world's leading ketchup maker, jumped 20 percent after agreeing to be bought out by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRK-A, BRK-B) and private equity firm 3G Capital. The transaction is valued at $72.50 per share, or $28 billion including the assumption of HNZ's outstanding debt.
Whole Foods (WFM) fell around 10 percent after missing analysts' Q1 sales estimates and providing a cautious outlook.
Tripadvisor (TRIP) lost seven percent after the company released its Q4 results.
Shares of graphics chip-maker Nvidia (NVDA) were up a little less than 3 percent after the company released its fourth-quarter earnings report.
AMR Corp (AAMRQ) surged more than 65 percent after American Airlines agreed to merge with U.S. Airways (LCC) to form the world's largest airline. AMR is currently in bankruptcy. U.S. Airways shares fell more than four percent on the news.
Weight Watchers (WTW) fell around 17 percent after its fourth-quarter profit fell by almost 9 percent.
CenturyLink (CTL) lost almost 23 percent of its value on Thursday after the company reported a disappointing Q4 and offered a weak outlook.
Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance (ULTA) fell around 12 percent after the company's CEO resigned to join Michael's Stores. The company also reported preliminary financial results for its fiscal fourth-quarter.
SunPower (SPWR) surged more than 22 percent on Thursday as the stock has soared in recent days after the company released a bullish earnings report on February 8.
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