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Stocks Mixed in Early Trading          10/30 09:19

   U.S. stocks are drifting in early trading Thursday as a parade of big 
companies turn in quarterly results. A strong gain for Visa pulled the Dow 
Jones industrial average higher.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are drifting in early trading Thursday as a 
parade of big companies turn in quarterly results. A strong gain for Visa 
pulled the Dow Jones industrial average higher.

   KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 fell five point to 1,981 as of 
10:09 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 68 points, or 
0.4 percent, at 17,043. The Nasdaq composite fell 25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 

   VISA: After the market closed Wednesday, the world's largest 
payment-processing company reported quarterly earnings that were higher than 
analysts' forecasts, thanks to the company handling more transactions. The 
company also announced a plan to spend as much as $5 billion on buying its own 
shares. Visa surged $19.73, or 9 percent, $234.50.

   THE ARCHRIVAL: The world's second-largest card-payment company, MasterCard, 
said its third-quarter profit surged as Americans appeared less hesitant to use 
their debit and credit cards. The results beat Wall Street's expectations, 
propelling MasterCard's stock up $5.79, or 8 percent, to $81.68.

   SCORECARD: Stronger corporate earnings have helped turn the market higher in 
recent weeks. Roughly half of the S&P 500's members have released their 
third-quarter results, and more than seven out of 10 have beaten Wall Street's 
targets, according to S&P Capital IQ. Third-quarter earnings are now on track 
to rise nearly 7 percent, led by material producers and health-care companies.

   MORE GROWTH: The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the 
three months ending in September, powered by more business investment, sales 
abroad and the biggest jump in military spending in five years. The Commerce 
Department's estimate for third-quarter growth came in slightly better than 
economists expected. In a separate report, the Labor Department counted more 
people applying for unemployment benefits last week, but the less-volatile 
four-week average declined to 281,000, the lowest level in more than 14 years.

   EUROPE: France's CAC 40 fell 0.5 percent and Germany's DAX shed 1 percent. 
Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.6 percent.

   ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.7 percent while South Korea's Kospi 
lost 0.1 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.5 percent. On mainland China, 
the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.8 percent.

   PARTY OVER: On Wednesday, the Fed declared that it had wrapped up its $4 
trillion bond-buying program, noting that the U.S. economy no longer needs as 
much assistance. Markets have been through several episodes of jitters about 
the program's shutdown, because it provided significant support to financial 
markets even as experts debated its effects on the U.S. economy. The focus now 
is on when the Fed will raise its short-term interest rate from a record low.

   BONDS AND DOLLAR: The price of the 10-year Treasury note edged up, and the 
yield, which moves in the opposite direction, slipped to 2.29 percent from 2.32 
percent late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 108.97 yen. The euro slipped to 

   COMMODITIES: Benchmark crude oil dropped 72 cents to $81.48 a barrel in 
electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold sank $19.60 to 
$1,205.30 an ounce.


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