Thursday, December 4, 2014

Stocks Down, Up, and Finish Lower

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with benchmarks not far from record highs, as investors considered reports that the European Central Bank would consider a broad-based package of quantitative easing in January and awaited the monthly jobs report.

Comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi had thrown cold water on hopes the ECB would begin a program of sovereign-debt purchases called quantitative easing. The central bank held interest rates at a record low.

Stocks reversed briefly higher, however, after Bloomberg News cited two euro-zone central bank officials familiar with the deliberations in reporting the ECB would consider additional stimulus measure in early 2015.

After a 97-point fall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a brief tour in positive terrain, hitting an intraday record of 17,937.96, before finishing down 12.52 points, or 0.1 percent, at 17,900.10.  Chevron led blue-chip losses that extended to 17 of 30 components.

The S&P 500 also rose to an intraday peak before ending with a loss of 2.41 points, or 0.1 percent, at 2,071.92, with energy hardest hit of its 10 major industry groups in decline.

The Nasdaq dropped 5.04 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,769.44.

For every share three shares rising, roughly five fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where almost 799 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 3,.4 billion.

Crude oil futures for January delivery fell 57 cents at $66.81 a barrel; the February gold futures contract dropped $1.00 to $1,207.70 an ounce.

The U.S. dollar edged lower against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners; the yield on the benchmark 10 year Treasury note fell 4 basis points to 2.2376 percent.

Thursday's U.S. reports had the Labor Department reporting fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, with jobless claims falling by 17,000 to 297,000.

On Friday, the government releases the November payrolls report.

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