Wall Street slides on GDP, jobless data

NEW YORK - Wall Street sank Thursday, after weak readings on economic growth and the job market touched off renewed concerns about the financial health of businesses and consumers. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points.

The Commerce Department's report that gross domestic product grew at a 1.9 percent pace in the second quarter disappointed investors. Economists polled by Thomson Financial/IFR had expected growth of 2.4 percent in the broad measure of the economy's health.

Investors were also concerned about Labor Department data saying that the number of people seeking jobless benefits jumped to the highest level in five years. Economists warned the weekly figures can be volatile, however, and some dismissed them as an aberration.

A $4.5 billion cash offer from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. for its cancer drug partner ImClone Systems Inc. kept the Nasdaq composite index from falling as sharply as other indexes.

In other positive news, oil prices declined, and an index of Midwestern business activity indicated growth.

Exxon Mobil 2Q profit sets US record, shares fall

HOUSTON - Exxon Mobil Corp. reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, the biggest profit from operations ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results were well short of Wall Street expectations and its shares slumped 3 percent.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company said net income for the April-June period came to $2.22 a share, up from $10.26 billion, or $1.83 a share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 40 percent to $138.1 billion from $98.4 billion in the year-earlier quarter.

Excluding an after-tax charge of $290 million related to an Exxon Valdez court settlement, earnings amounted to $11.97 billion, or $2.27 per share.

Analysts on average expected Exxon Mobil to earn $2.52 a share on revenue of $144 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Financial. The estimates typically exclude one-time items.

The record-setting results were largely expected, given that crude prices in the second quarter were nearly double what they were a year ago. Natural gas prices were significantly higher too.