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U.S. stocks began Thursday near flat, with investors finding little motivation to move in either direction after extended gains. "Earnings season is for the most part behind us, and like the rest of America, you've got Congress on vacation, the European Central Bank is on vacation, and the Fed doesn't meet until September," said Art Hogan, equity strategist at Lazard Capital Markets. "We're finding reasons for a slow and steady grind higher, which is better than the alternative, which is a low-volume selloff." The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 2 points to 13,173. The S&P 500 index dipped half a point to 1,401. The Nasdaq Composite rose 4 points to 3,016. On the earnings front more mixed data. Advance Auto, Briggs Stratton, Tim Hortons, and Kohls are all lower on earnings. Wendys, Cooper Tires, and Brinker are higher on earnings. In the tech space Google and Apple grind higher. Cisco Systems is jumping 3% on an upgrade ahead of earnings next week. OSI Systems is higher following earnings. Seagate and Western Digital are higher on upgrades. IBM seems to be having trouble with the $200 level. Through the first hour the averages battled back into the green similar to yesterday. The energy and material space continue to slowly improve. Oil company, Robbins & Myers is jumping 27% after agreeing to a buyout. Through the morning the averages moved sideways at the unchanged level. Not much volume. In the afternoon more of the same, a sideways move. I think all the traders are in the Hamptons. In the last hour the averages drifted a little lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 10 points to 13,165. The S&P 500 rose 58 cents to 1,402. The Nasdaq Composite added 7 points to 3,018.
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