US STOCKS-Wall St finishes flat on mixed earnings; S&P at record
* Jobless claims lowest since 2006; home sales slide
* Caterpillar drags on Dow; Facebook stock at record on results
* Dow off 0.02 pct; S&P 500 up 0.05 pct; Nasdaq down 0.04 pct (Updates to close)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 24 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks ended a quiet session on Thursday as earnings painted a mixed picture of the economy, though the S&P 500 set another record closing high.
The latest economic data failed to entice buyers. U.S. claims for initial jobless benefits fell to a seasonally adjusted 284,000, the lowest since mid-February 2006. New home sales declined 8.1 percent in June, the biggest drop in almost a year. The PHLX housing sector index lost 2.7 percent, marking its biggest one-day drop since February.
Recent gains on Wall Street have been fueled 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 jumped 5.2 percent to $74.98 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.
Caterpillar Inc raised its full-year outlook but posted a decline in sales, pushing its stock down 3.1 percent to $105.04. The Dow component is the world's largest maker of earth-moving equipment. Continuación...