The Dow Jones Industrial Average once again briefly surpassed the 12,000 point threshold as U.S. stocks, driven by strong earnings reports, are up slightly. The mid-morning increase comes in spite of a report from the Labor Dept. that jobless claims in the U.S. had increased to 454,000 in last week.

The Dow rose slightly by 0.08 percent, while the S&P 500 index is up by .03 percent and the Nasdaq rose by 0.24 percent.

The 10-year bond yield is up slightly by 0.01 percent in the wake of a downgrade of Japan’s debt rating by Standard & Poor’s. Oil futures are down 0.46 percent. Gold remains unchanged.

AT&T (NYSE: T), in the shadow of a looming battle with Verizon for Apple’s popular iPhone, is down 2.87 percent after reporting a lower-than-expected number of new subscribers in the fourth quarter. Proctor & Gamble (NYSE: PG) is down 1.76 percent after reporting lower-than-expected sales growth in the fourth quarter.

Shares of Home Depot (NYSE: HD) and Lowe’s Cos. (NYSE: LOW) are up 1.24 percent and 1.23 percent, respectively, in the wake of a stronger-than-expected new U.S. home sales in December.

Caterpillar, Inc. (NYSE: CAT) is up 1.33 percent after reporting a 62 percent growth in sales in the fourth quarter from same period in 2009.