Stocks and exchange traded funds (ETFs) are slightly in negative territory after a few days of modest gains. Traders appear to be blase about encouraging economic reports concerning unemployment numbers.

The Labor Department reported that new claims for unemployment fell to the lowest number since Jan. 3. The figure was also below what economists had reported.

Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) reported that its profit were up 3.2%, although sales at stores open for at least one year were down slightly as economic conditions remained challenged. Wal-Mart has been a standout in the recession, thanks to being considered a low-price leader. The store attributed the drop in sales solely to falling prices, reports Stephanie Rosenbloom for The New York Times. Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLP) was down slightly this morning; Wal-Mart is 10%. For more stories on consumer activity, visit our retail category.

Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) has been ordered to pay $1.25 billion as part of a settlement in an antritrust and patent case. Advanced Micro Devices had charged Intel with using strong-arm tactics to pressure PC and server makers to use its processors. In return for the settlement, AMD would withdraw its complaints, say Vindu Goel and James Kanter for The New York Times. iShares Dow Jones U.S. Technology (NYSEArca: IYW) is trading slightly lower this morning; Intel is 6%.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Asian nations this morning that the Obama administration was committed to having a strong dollar. The dollar has recently hit a 15-month low on soaring budget deficits, reports Reuters.

The FDIC has ordered banks to prepay $45 billion in order to rebuild its deposit fund. The enormous rate of bank failures this year has drained the coffers, says Alison Vekshin for Bloomberg. The failures have led to a deficit in the fund for the first time since 1991.

For more stories on banks, visit our financial category.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.