Stocks flat...Jobless claims fall...Little change in mortgage rates...Ford raising dividend

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Associated Press

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 10:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are little changed in the early going on Wall Street after the government reported encouraging news about the job market. Macy's jumped 7 percent after the company said it would cut 2,500 jobs. Ford rose 3 percent after announcing a dividend increase.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department says the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell by 15,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 330,000. The less volatile four-week average dropped 9,750 to 349,000. Applications appear to have stabilized near pre-recession levels after a period of volatility around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. The government releases the December jobs report tomorrow.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Average U.S. rates for fixed mortgages have barely moved this week. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac says the average for the 30-year loan slipped to 4.51 percent from 4.53 percent last week. The average for the 15-year loan edged up to 3.56 percent from 3.55 percent. Mortgage rates have risen more than a full percentage point since hitting record lows a year ago.

DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) — Ford is raising the quarterly dividend it pays shareholders for the second time since restoring the payout in 2012. The second-largest U.S. automaker says its board has declared a first-quarter dividend of 12.5 cents per share, a 25 percent increase from the previous 10-cent payout. The new dividend is payable on March 3 to shareholders of record at the close of business on Jan. 31.

NEW YORK (AP) — IBM's Watson supercomputer is getting its own business division and a new home in the heart of New York City. IBM says the new business will be dedicated to the development and commercialization of the project that first gained fame by defeating a pair of "Jeopardy!" champions in 2011. IBM has since been developing Watson for more practical uses, ranging from health care to banking. The company is building a headquarters for the division near New York University.

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