Stocks Finish Lower

Toll Brothers issued disappointing guidance, while Texas Instruments gave an upbeat outlook

Stocks finished lower Thursday, as profit-taking prevailed over a small rise during midday trading. Oil prices continued to rise, up $1.45 to $60.66 a barrel.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 55.79 points to 10,755.12. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was down 1.53 points to 1,255.84. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index was down 5.55 points to 2,246.46.

Gold hit a 24-year high at $523.50 on Thursday, the sixth straight day gold has made major trend high, reports Action Economics.

Toll Brothers (TOL ) posted $1.84 fourth-quarter earnings per share, vs. $1.11 a year ago, on a 40% revenue rise. The home builder says sales results indicate housing demand is returning to more normalized levels. It sees $4.79-$5.27 fiscal year 2006 EPS (including 11 cents expense) on $6.65-$7.25 billion revenue.

General Motors (GM ) shares fell after the auto maker confirmed that it is discussing having a Kirk Kerkorian representative from Tracinda Corp. join its board.

Meanwhile, an upbeat outlook from Texas Instruments (TXN ) bolstered tech shares. The chip maker narrowed $3.425-$3.715 billion fourth-quarter revenue forecast range to $3.56-$3.705 billion, and 36-40 cents EPS to 38-40 cents. S&P upgraded the stock to buy from hold.

Xilinx (XLNX ) raised 1%-5% December sequential sales growth forecast to 4%-8%. The chip maker says it will repatriate $500 million of foreign earnings, take a $27 million third-quarter tax charge, and increase its effective tax rate for the year to 23%, up from 21%-22% previous guidance.

Chipmaker Intel (INTC ) will also issue a mid-quarter review after the market close, which could help revive sentiment after a couple sour sessions on stocks, says Action Economics.

In economic news, U.S. jobless claims rose 6,000 to 327,000 in the week ended Dec. 3, after falling 16,000 to 321,000 the prior week. The 4-week moving average was virtually unchanged at 322.5k.

In Europe, London's FTSE-100, Germany's DAX, and France's CAC-40 indexes finished slightly higher.

In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index plunged 301.30 points (1.95%) to 15,183.36, responding to weakness on Wall Street Tuesday and disappointing October machinery orders. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index tumbled 255.79 points (1.69%) to 14,879.16.

Treasury Market

Yields finished lower after speculation that next week's Federal Open Market Committee meeting might result in a gentler policy statement, says Action Economics. The 10-year note yield traded at 4.46%.

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