Stocks Quietly Mixed

Stock prices are narrowly mixed in early trading, continuing the lackluster trading pattern that has dominated in the market this week.

When is a huge profit not enough? Investors are asking that question this morning. Exxon Mobil reported that its quarterly profit rose 17 percent to nearly 11 billion dollars. With a lower profit margin, it missed Wall Street's earnings expectations on a per-share basis.

The Labor Department says new claims for unemployment benefits
rose by 35,000 last week to 380,000. That was a larger-than-expected increase, indicating a soft job market. The news comes a day ahead of the monthly unemployment report.

The Commerce Department says consumer spending rose at a faster
pace than expected in March. Most of the gain was because of rising
food and energy prices. Stripping out inflation, spending edged up only one-tenth of a percent during the month.

In the coming hour, the Institute for Supply Management gives its monthly update on the manufacturing sector. It is expected to show the sector contracted for a third straight month.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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