U.S. stocks opened higher once again on light pre-holiday volume. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38 points to 8,456. The S&P 500 rose a point to 864, while the Nasdaq Composite fell a point to 1,519. Economic news isn't getting any better. Jobless claims hit a 26 year high. Not a good stat during the holidays. The financials look awful once again declining for five straight days. Today, for now, they're up a few pennies. Merrill and Wachovia will soon merge with their respective suitors and disappear. Within the S&P 100, Amazon and Costco will replace the two banks. Both stocks are modestly higher. The retailers are modestly higher on this last day before Christmas. Walmart is higher after settling 63 suits over wages. The techs are modestly higher. One analyst put a hold rating on Google and Yahoo today. Thanks for nothing. Not a good year for analysts. Apple, Research in Motion, and IBM are lower. The one sector trading lower so far are the commodities. Oil inventories continue to build. The corporate bond market, on the other hand, has been performing well of late thanks to zero percent Treasuries. Mortgage applications continue to surge. The 30 year fixed dropped again to 5.14%. After the first hour the Dow remained up 30 points. The Nasdaq and S&P 500 were unchanged. Through the morning the averages remained in the green, but not by much. Moodys put out a negative report on the restaurant stocks. These guys are on the ball. The markets closed early, thankfully. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 48 points at 8,468. The S&P 500 index gained 5 points to 868, with nine of its 10 sectors advancing. The Nasdaq Composite lost 3 points to 1,524. Merry Christmas.
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