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U.S. stocks struggled to retain slight gains at Thursday's start, with weekly jobless data coming in a tad better than expected ahead of Friday's August jobs report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 3 points to 10,273. The S&P 500 added a point to 1,081. The Nasdaq Composite fell fractionally to 2,176. More mergers and acquisitions to talk about. Burger King is jumping 24% after agreeing to be taken private. 3Par is up 5% after HP raised their bid for the firm. Moodys is up 2% on rumors of a takeover. On the earnings front, Sycamore is jumping 18% after easily beating estimates. In the retail space, better than expected August same store sales has that sector performing well. American Eagle is up 5% after reaffirming earnings estimates. Pier One is jumping 11% after upping guidance. Saks and Nordstrom are up over 5% thanks to better than expected sales. At 10 o'clock, better than expected housing numbers helped boost the averages, moving the three major indexes into the green. The financials are now in the green. The commodities continue to perform well. After the first hour the averages remain in the green, but not by much. By the lunch hour the Dow was unchanged while the Nasdaq remained in the green. It's actually a quiet day ahead of the big monthly unemployment number out tomorrow. In the last hour the averages actually improved moving to the highs of the day. I guess someone isn't afraid of the employment number out tomorrow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 50 points to 10,320. Blue-chip gains were led by shares of Alcoa up 3%, and Home Depot up 2.6%. The S&P 500 index gained 9 points to 1,090, led by the consumer discretionary sector, up 1.8%, and industrials, up 1.3%. The Nasdaq Composite rose 23 points to end at 2,200.
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