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U.S. stocks gave up opening gains and drifted lower as investors weighed a barrage of mixed earnings and a much stronger-than-expected jobless claims report.

A weekly tally of unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level since 2000, but analysts warned that it may be due to holidays and weather.

The S&P 500 (SPX) switched between small gains and losses with seven of the 10 main sectors trading in the red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was essentially flat, as two-thirds of its 30 components were in negative territory.

The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) drifted lower, as disappointing results from companies such as Qualcomm and Yahoo were weighing on the index.

Kim Caughey Forrest, investment analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group, said investors are discounting jobless claims and are focusing on earnings.

“Lots of companies are reporting good and okay quarterly results but are saying that 2015 is going to be tougher than they previously thought. The market, which always looks forward, is adjusting,” Forrest said.

McDonald’s Corp. (MCD) , Dow Chemical Company (DOW) shares rose after beating earnings estimates. Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM), Yahoo Inc.(YHOO) and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.(RCL) shares dropped sharply after missing forecasts.

In economic news, the number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment-insurance benefits plunged 43,000 to 265,000 in the week that ended Jan. 24, hitting the lowest tally in 14 years, according to Labor Department data released Thursday. The decline, the biggest since November 2012, was much larger than expected.

Separately, pending home sales cooled in December, which the National Association of Realtors attributed to fewer homes available for sale and a slight rise in prices. The pending home sales index fell 3.7% during December, though the year-on-year gain was 11.7%, the highest since June 2013.

Corporate moves: McDonald’s (MCD) gained after the fast-food giant announced that President and CEO Don Thompson will retire March 1, and Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook will take his place.

Alibaba (BABA) shares dove after worse-than-expected sales gains.

Ford(F) shares initially rose after the automaker posted results, but was recently trading lower.

Shares of Facebook (FB) were unchanged after the social-networking company on Wednesday reported results that were slightly above consensus.

Qualcomm Inc.(QCOM) shares skidded on an outlook-cut from the chip maker. Inc.(AMZN) and Google Inc.(GOOG) are coming after the close.

For more on today’s notable movers, read our regular Movers & Shakers column.

Overseas markets: European stocks came under moderate pressure — the oil and gas group in particular. Shares of Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSA) (RDSB) fell 4% after the company said it plans to cut capital expenditure by about $15 billion over the next three years.

Oil prices (CLH5) were flat after nearing six-year lows, while gold (GCG5) prices fell more than 1% to $1,268.40 an ounce. The dollar (DXY) drifted lower. In Asia, the Nikkei 225 retreated on earnings and Fed rate-hike worries.