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Friday, October 12, 2012

US Stocks lose steam (ext.CNN)

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks pared earlier gains and ended little changed Thursday afternoon, as enthusiasm over upbeat economic data faded.

The Dow Jones industrial average and Nasdaq both finished in the red, while the S&P 500 managed to hold just above the breakeven line, snapping a four-day losing streak.

Trading is expected to remain choppy for the next month, as investors refrain from making any large bets ahead of the November elections. Investors are also waiting for more clarity emerges on Europe's debt problems, particularly Spain's troubles.

Earlier Thursday, the major indexes were modestly higher as investors welcomed an unexpected drop in the number of people filing first-time unemployment claims. The number of jobless claims fell 30,000 to 339,000 last week, hitting the lowest level since February 2008. The drop, however, was caused by an anomaly as one state posted a large decline in claims, which is not typical during the last week in September.

Also on the economic front, the U.S. Census Bureau said the trade deficit fell slightly to $44.2 billion in August, and the Labor Department also reported import prices rose 1.1% in September, while export prices rose 0.8%.

In Europe, credit rating agency S&P downgraded Spain late Wednesday, warning that the latest plan to recapitalize Spanish banks "still lacks predictability."

Joe Heider, managing principal of Rehmann Financial, said many investors were seeing the downgrade as a positive catalyst that could force Spain to finally seek a bailout.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell versus the euro and British pound, but it gained against the Japanese yen.

Oil for November delivery added 82 cents to settle at $92.07 a barrel.

Gold futures for December delivery rose $5.50 to settle at $1,770.60 an ounce.


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