Dow dips slightly after job news rally sputters

Lucia Cuttone works with fellow traders on the

Lucia Cuttone works with fellow traders on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Tuesday. Economists expect the Labor Department to report a slight rise in the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits. (Oct. 9, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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The market closed roughly flat Thursday, underwhelmed by encouraging jobs news but unrattled by worrisome developments in the global economy.

In the morning, a government report of fewer jobless claims carried the market higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose as much as 83 points, shrugging off a widening U.S. trade deficit, higher unemployment in Greece and a ratings cut for Spain.

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By late afternoon, the rally sputtered, and the Dow wavered between small gains and losses. It closed slightly down, along with the Nasdaq composite index, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index eked out the tiniest gain.

Traders, it seemed, were so used to bad news that the developments didn't really push them one way or the other. "There's not a lot to move the market," said Erik Davidson, deputy chief investment officer of Wells Fargo Private Bank in San Francisco. "Everyone's talking about baseball."

The Dow finished down 18.58 points to 13,326.39. The S&P 500 inched up 0.02 percent to 1,432.84. The Nasdaq fell 0.08 percent to 3,049.41.

The Labor Department said that weekly applications for unemployment aid fell to their lowest level since February 2008, before the financial crisis, and when the unemployment rate was much lower -- 4.9 percent, compared with today's 7.8 percent.

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