US STOCKS-Wall St flat as Caterpillar offsets Facebook
* Jobless claims lowest since 2006; home sales tumble
* Caterpillar weighs on Dow, Facebook hits record on results
* Ford beats expectations; recalls hurt GM
* Dow off 0.03 pct; S&P 500 up 0.03 pct; Nasdaq off 0.04 pct (Updates to afternoon trading)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks barely budged on Thursday as corporate earnings painted a mixed picture of the economy, though the S&P 500 eked out a record intraday high for the third straight session.
The latest economic data also failed to entice buyers. While jobless claims dropped to the lowest since mid-February 2006, new home sales fell 8.1 percent in June, the biggest decline in almost a year. The PHLX housing sector index slid 2.7 percent in its biggest one-day drop since February.
The U.S. stock market's recent gains have been driven mostly by earnings, which have been strong this quarter. With 41 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported results so far, 68 percent have posted earnings that topped expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the long-term average of 63 percent. On the revenue side, 62.1 percent have beaten analysts' forecasts, compared with the historical average of 61 percent.
Facebook Inc shares jumped 6.5 percent to $75.89 and hit an intraday record high of $76.74 a day after the world's No. 1 social network reported earnings and revenue that beat expectations. Continuación...