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U.S. stocks opened slightly higher on Thursday, and were set to post strong gains for the year, as a bigger-than-expected drop in jobless claims further boosted hopes for the economy to recover. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4 points to 10,554, receiving a boost from shares of Walt Disney after Marvell Entertainment approved their merger. Heading into today, the Dow is up 2% for December and 20.3% for 2009. American Express shares led year-to-date gains on the Dow, up 121%, followed by Microsoft shares, up 59%. The S&P 500 index inched up a point to 1,127. The broad index is up 2.9% for December and up 24.8% for the year. The Nasdaq Composite gained 5 points to 2,291. Thursday, leaving it up 6.9% for the month and 45.3% year to date. Today looks like a anti-climatic day to a wild year. Very little news this morning. In the tech sector Apple is modestly higher. Rumors of their mini-computer called the tablet is expected to come out soon. Google is expected to release their cellphone next week. Next year should be a good year for the tech sector. Industry data indicated that the e-books like the kindle should see brisk sales next year. The financials are quiet this morning. Goldman Sachs has performed well this week, perking up of late. After the first hour the averages dipped into the red. Through the morning and into the afternoon the averages remained in the red. The Dow fell 50 points. The Nasdaq declined 6 points. Only a few stocks remained in the green. The financials are in the green for the most part. Goldman Sachs continues to perform well. Not much else is moving. In the last hour we saw some selling on light volume as mutual fund managers squared up positions for the end of the year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 120 points, or 1.1%, at 10,428. The blue chip average still sported a 0.8% gain for December and a strong 18.8% advance for the year. The S&P 500 index fell 11 points, or 1%, to 1,115. It rose 1.8% for the month, and is up 23.5% for 2009. The Nasdaq Composite fell 22 points, or 1%, to 2,269. It gained 5.8% in December and rose 43% for the year. The decade, however, was a lost one for the major benchmarks. The Dow fell 9.3%, its second worst decade on record after the 1930s. The S&P slumped 24.1%, and the Nasdaq slumped 44.2% over the past 10 years.
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