Stocks little changed on trade concerns, home sales miss

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GE sees 2019 profits falling short of expectations

Forbes Media Chairman Steve Forbes and FBN's Maria Bartiromo on General Electric forecasting that 2019 earnings will fall short of expectations.

Major U.S. stock averages ended Thursday's session close to their starting points after being buoyed by financial and technology company shares but weighed by weakening industrial company and health care company shares.

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Investors also digested downbeat economic news from China, which reported industrial activity and home sales declining in January and February. Also, joblessness last month edged up to 5.3 percent.

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Meanwhile, shares of beleaguered Boeing -- which have been hammered after the second crash of a 737 Max jet in five months -- extended their two-day streak of relative stability.

General Electric stock jumped after CEO Larry Culp updated investors on progress toward profitability, saying he expects cash generation to turn positive over the next two years. Shares have been rising since March 6.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
NOCNORTHROP GRUMMAN CORPORATION268.36-4.12-1.51%
BMYBRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB CO.48.16-0.76-1.55%
FTITECHNIPFMC PLC22.66-1.17-4.91%
NTRSNORTHERN TRUST88.59-4.10-4.42%

Johnson & Johnson shares were lower after a jury in California ruled that it must pay $29 million to a woman who claimed its baby powder gave her terminal cancer.

In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department said on Thursday new home sales declined 6.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 607,000 units.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 229,000.

U.S. import prices increased by the most in nine months in February.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES25502.32-460.19-1.77%
SP500S&P 5002800.71-54.17-1.90%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7642.666882-196.29-2.50%

In Asian markets on Thursday, China’s Shanghai Composite was down 1.2 percent as China's industrial output rose a slower-than-expected 5.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended 0.2 percent higher and Japan’s Nikkei ended 1 percent lower.

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In Europe, the major markets closed with gains. London’s FTSE gained 0.4 percent, Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent and France’s CAC was higher by 0.9 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.