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S&P 500 breaks through 1,500, first time since 2007

NEW YORK – The Standard & Poor’s 500 index traded above 1,500 for the first time since December 2007 following a sudden drop in claims for unemployment benefits, another sign that the labor market is healing.

A plunge in Apple’s stock pulled the Nasdaq composite index lower. The electronics giant predicted slower sales.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 66 points at 13,846 after the first hour of trading.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index inched above 1,500 in early trading, and was up four points at 1,499 as of 10:24 a.m. The S&P has risen over the previous six days.

The Nasdaq fell nine points to 3,144. A 10 percent drop in Apple, the country’s most valuable company, was enough to pull the technology-heavy index lower. Apple is the largest component of the Nasdaq, making up 9.9 percent of the index.

The Labor Department reported that the number of Americans applying for unemployment aid fell last week to the lowest since January 2008. Applications dropped 5,000 to 330,000. The four-week average also hit a five-year low.

Apple sank $49.92 to $464.09 in early trading. The company predicted that its sales would grow just 7 percent in the current quarter, as iPhone sales peak and the company lacks new products to introduce. That’s a let-down for a company that has regularly posted growth rates above 50 percent.

Netflix jumped 37 percent, or $38.23, to $141.49. Analysts had expected rising expenses to lead the provider of movies and television shows to post a loss in the last three months of 2012. But Netflix said late Wednesday that it turned a profit with the help of 2 million new subscribers.

Microsoft and Starbucks are scheduled to report after the closing bell.

In the market for U.S. government bonds, the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 1.84 percent from 1.83 percent late Wednesday.

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