* Weekly jobless claims lowest since 1973
* Caterpillar falls after lower quarterly profit
* GM jumps after adjusted profit more than doubles
* Visa, AT&T and Amazon results expected after the bell
* Dow falls 0.09 pct, S&P up 0.05 pct, Nasdaq up 0.42 pct (Adds details, adds comment, updates prices)
By Tanya Agrawal
July 23 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq composite and the S&P 500 were higher on Thursday after two days of losses, while the Dow Jones industrial average was at a week-low on disappointing results from bellwethers such as 3M and Caterpillar .
The two stocks, together with American Express, contributed 55 points to the Dow’s fall.
Caterpillar shares fell as much as 3.4 percent to a four-year low of $77.03 after the world’s largest construction and mining equipment maker reported sales decline in key markets in a sluggish global economy.
American Express fell 2.8 percent to $77.75 as revenue missed expectations while 3M was down 2.5 percent at $151.44 after the diversified manufacturer cut its full-year forecasts.
“Companies such as Caterpillar are a litmus test for the global economy especially at a time when the market is concerned about China’s economy,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.
Luschini said strong results from General Motors was helping offset some of the losses by Caterpillar and 3M. General Motors jumped 5.1 percent to $31.87 after its adjusted net income more than doubled in the second quarter.
At 10:59 a.m. ET (1459 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 15.57 points, or 0.09 percent, at 17,835.47, the S&P 500 was up 1.09 points, or 0.05 percent, at 2,115.24 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 21.54 points, or 0.42 percent, at 5,193.31.
Six of the 10 major S&P 500 sectors were lower with the utilities index leading the decliners with a 1.5 percent fall.
Corporate earnings will continue to drive the market with a host of big companies scheduled to report on Thursday.
Dow component Visa, Amazon and AT&T are expected after the close.
While markets remain near record highs, June-quarter S&P 500 earnings are expected to dip 1 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data, less than the 3-percent decline expected at the start of July.
Of the companies that have reported so far, 75 percent beat earnings expectations, above the 63-percent average beat rate since 1994.
However, only 52 percent have topped revenue forecasts, below the 61-percent average beat rate since 2002.
“For the markets to move higher we need to see revenue growth and consumer spending to pick up. There is a feeling that consumers aren’t spending enough and are saving instead,” said Kevin Dorwin, managing principal of Bingham, Osborn & Scarborough in San Francisco, which oversees $3.4 billion.
The U.S. market is a little bit overvalued at the moment and is due for a correction, he said.
The S&P 500 is currently trading at 16.9 times forward 12 months earnings, above the 10-year median of 14.7 times, according to StarMine data.
Investors are also keeping an eye on economic reports for clues regarding the timing of a rate hike. On Thursday, data showed the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits last week fell to its lowest level since 1973, suggesting job growth remained solid despite slowing in June.
SanDisk jumped 17.5 percent to $63.68, a day after the data storage products maker reported a quarterly profit that was double of what analysts had expected.
Under Armour jumped as much as 9.3 percent to a record high of $97.69 after the sports apparel and footwear maker raised its full-year forecast for the second time in three months.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,497 to 1,390. On the Nasdaq, 1,521 issues rose and 1,029 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed 31 new 52-week highs and 26 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 94 new highs and 55 new lows. (Editing by Don Sebastian)