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Thursday, August 18, 2011

US Stocks battle back to end mixed (ext.)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks ended a thinly traded session mixed Wednesday as investors weighed the latest corporate results against global economic and debt concerns.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 4 points, or less than 0.1%, to close at 11,410. The S&P 500 (SPX) added 1 point to 1,193. The Nasdaq composite (COMP) fell 12 points to 2,511.

Stocks opened higher following upbeat quarterly results from Target. But the gains faded later in the day and investors gravitated toward more defensive stocks that offer rich dividends.

"Technology is not cooperating," said David Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams. He said a strong euro, which can hurt the profits of U.S. companies that do business in Europe, was behind the weakness in the tech sector.

Overall, traders remain wary given the uncertain outlook for the U.S. economy and the challenges facing European leaders as they struggle to resolve the festering debt crisis hanging over the euro zone.

Concerns about the U.S. and Europe were behind the extreme volatility that rocked stock markets around the world last week. But trading has been more subdued this week with many shell-shocked investors moving to the sidelines or taking their summer vacation.

On Wednesday, only about 500 million shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange. Thin trading volumes can often lead to choppy trading on Wall Street.

"It's a combination of people being exhausted from last week, and the fact that this is traditionally the lowest volume period of the year," said Jason Weisberg, vice president of Seaport Securities

Traders were also bracing for inflation data due early Thursday, which is expected to show that U.S. consumer prices rose 0.2% in July.

The dollar fell against the euro and Japanese yen and the British pound.

Oil for September delivery gained $1.15 to $87.80 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery rose $1.90 to $1,795.70 an ounce.

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