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Friday, June 17, 2011

Dow pushes higher on stronger reports (ext)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks closed mixed on Thursday as weakness in the tech sector countered stronger-than-expected reports on the housing market and unemployment.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 64 points, or 0.5%, to 11,962. The S&P 500 (SPX) rose 2 points, or 0.2%, to 1,268; and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) lost 8 points, or 0.3%, to 2,624.

Stocks see-sawed throughout the day, with the Dow rising as much as 90 points and falling as much as 20 points.

Deepening worries about Greece's debt continue to keep investors on their toes until a bailout for the country is agreed upon by eurozone officials.

As protesters continued to rally against austerity measures Thursday, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou reportedly said he will introduce a new government and take a vote of confidence in Parliament.

Stocks were in danger of extending the losses from Wednesday, when the Dow fell nearly 180 points on gloomy manufacturing data and news that eurozone officials failed to agree on a rescue plan for Greece.

The losses have been part of a steady weakening in U.S. stocks since the start of May, with the major indexes on track to decline for a seventh straight week. The S&P is within 11 points of going negative for 2011. The index opened the year at 1,257.64.

"Anyone who is selling stock at these levels anticipates a double-dip[recession]," said Jack Ablin, chief investment strategist with Harris Private Bank.

"While the economic data was better than expected, growth remains muted and there's more negative than positive sentiment in the market," said Stephen Carl, head trader with Williams Capital.

The government reported that jobless claims slipped to 414,000 last week, down 16,000 from the prior week. Economists had expected a more modest decline in weekly claims to 421,000.

Housing starts jumped 3.5% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000. They were forecast to have risen to a 540,000 annual rate in May, from 523,000 in April.

The dollar strengthened against the euro and the British pound, but slumped versus the Japanese yen.

Oil for July delivery rose 14 cents to $94.95 a barrel, after dropping more than 4% on Wednesday and hitting the lowest level since February.

Gold futures for August delivery $3.30 to $1,529.90 an ounce.

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