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US stock indexes hold near record ahead of holiday



NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, keeping the major indexes near record levels, as investors assessed the latest reports on the economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,069 as of 3:16 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 15 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,799. The Nasdaq composite climbed 20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,779.

MIXED PICTURE: Investors got three got reports Wednesday morning that gave mixed signals on how the U.S. economy was doing. Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in October, but a key category that tracks business investment plans declined sharply for a second straight month.

A separate report showed that the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the first time in nearly three months. Another report showed U.S. consumers spent modestly more in October, a slight improvement after no gain at all in the previous month.

THE CHIPS RISE: Semiconductor stocks rose after Analog Devices reported strong earnings. Analog Devices was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 index after the company reported earnings and sales that exceeded Wall Street's expectations. The company said that its sales rose 20 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter ending Nov. 1 compared with a year ago. The company also expects 21 percent revenue growth in its first quarter. The company's stock jumped $2.90, or 5.6 percent, to $54.61.

HOLIDAY SEASON: The U.S. stock market will be closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. It will also close early, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, on Friday. Stocks have barely budged this week ahead of the break. The S&P 500 index has gained 0.3 percent since Monday and the Dow is flat.

THE QUOTE: "This seems to be a classic holiday plateau," said Kristina Hooper, head of US Capital Markets Research & Strategy for Allianz Global Investors. "Probably, we are not going to get any focus until we come back on Monday."

DOWN ON THE FARM: Deere's fourth-quarter results were stronger than Wall Street expected, but the company said its farm equipment sales and profits will keep falling in its new fiscal year as the sector remains weak. Deere's stock slid 85 cents, or 1 percent, to $86.94.

ENERGY: The price of oil slid to another four-year low in light trading ahead of an OPEC meeting Thursday in Vienna that is not expected to result in a reduction of global supplies. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 40 cents to close at $73.69 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 58 cents to close at $77.75 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange in London.

In other energy futures trading on the NYMEX:

— Wholesale gasoline rose 0.3 cent to close at $2.035 a gallon

— Heating oil rose 0.2 cents to close at $2.397 a gallon.

— Natural gas fell 4.8 cents to close at $4.355 per 1,000 cubic feet.

OTHER COMMODITIES: Metals futures closed little changed from the day before. Gold fell 50 cents to $1,196.60 an ounce, silver edged down half a cent to $16.55 an ounce and copper was flat at $2.96 a pound.

EUROPE'S DAY: Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 6,729 and Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 9,915. France's CAC-40 shed 0.2 percent to 4,373.

METALS: Gold was unchanged at $1,196.60 an ounce. Silver was also flat, closing at $16.54 an ounce. Copper was also unchanged at $2.96 a pound.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices rose slightly. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.24 percent from 2.26 on Tuesday. The dollar edged down to 117.65 yen from 117.85 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2507 from $1.2477 late Tuesday.


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