Markets closed down today:
▼ Dow: -0.06 percent
▼ Nasdaq: -1.01 percent
▼ S&P: -0.24 percent
▼ Gold: -0.44 percent to $1,742.32 an ounce
▼ Silver: -1.21 percent to settle at $32.78
▼ Oil: -0.09 percent
Markets were down because:
Google plummeted almost $80 per share, more than 10 percent, and trading in the stock was halted two and a half hours Thursday after a disappointing earnings report was published ahead of schedule and surprised investors.
Bleak figures in the report about online advertising dragged down Facebook stock, too, and the Nasdaq composite index skidded 1 percent on a day when the broader stock market was mostly flat.
Google was trading at $754 per share at 12:30 p.m. EDT, then fell almost $20 in a minute after investors saw the report, a draft. It dropped as low as $676, and Google halted trading at 12:50 p.m., with the stock at $687.
The stock was halted until 3:20 p.m. Companies routinely halt trading when they have news to release to investors during the market day, but two and a half hours is an unusually long suspension.
When trading in Google resumed, the stock climbed slightly, but it still finished down $60.49, or 8 percent, at $695.
It is a warning sign for Facebook, which is trying to figure out how to make money off advertising on mobile devices.
Facebook stock declined 90 cents, or 4.6 percent, at $18.98, with most of the loss coming after Google's earnings report. The company went public in May at $38, but it has fallen as low as $17.55, in part because of investor concerns about ads.
Google is the third-largest component in the Nasdaq composite, behind Apple and Microsoft. The Nasdaq finished down 31.25 points at 3,072.87.
The broader market fared better: The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 8.06 points, or 0.06 percent, at 13,549.94. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 3.57 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,457.34.
Analysts expect S&P 500 companies to say that overall earnings shrank in the third quarter compared with a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ. That would be the first drop in exactly three years.
American Express reported quarterly revenue late Wednesday that fell short of Wall Street's expectations even though earnings were in line. Amex said card holders' rate of spending has slowed in recent months. Its stock lost $1.76 to $57.61.
Strong profits for the insurer Travelers sent its stock up 3.6 percent. The company said claims from catastrophes plunged compared to the same quarter last year, which helped earnings double. Travelers' stock gained $2.56 to $73.94.
BB&T bank, Philip Morris International and Boston Scientific all fell after reporting results that fell short of forecasts. Microsoft fell in after-hours trading after reporting its earnings.
Weekly applications for unemployment benefits surged to a four-month high, a sharp rise from the previous week. The Labor Department pointed to technical reasons behind the swing, mainly delayed figures from one large state, California.
In other trading Thursday, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 1.83 percent, up from 1.82 percent Wednesday. The euro lost 0.4 cent against the dollar to $1.307. Crude oil fell 2 cents to $92.10 per barrel.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.