Stocks flat amid new Europe concerns

Christian Sanfilippo Jr., left, and William Bott, both

Christian Sanfilippo Jr., left, and William Bott, both of Barclays, watch the trades Wednesday on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. (Feb. 13, 2013) (Credit: AP)

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Renewed worries about Europe overshadowed an encouraging U.S. jobs report Thursday, leaving major stock indexes roughly where they started.

The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell to 341,000 last week, the lowest level in three weeks, according to the Labor Department. Besides a few weeks last month affected by seasonal trends, that's the lowest level in nearly five years.

But Germany's economy shrank more than expected late last year, and the slowdown in Europe's largest economy deepened the region's ongoing recession. That's a troubling sign for the United States, because sales to Europe have been a boon for American companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 9.52 points to 13,973.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up 0.07 percent to 1,521.38. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.06 percent to 3,198.66.

After a strong start, the stock market has drifted sideways over the previous week with few major events to sway investors. That calm could disappear soon, said Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING U.S. Investment Management. With recessions in Europe and Japan, and weak growth in the United States, he's bracing for some turbulence. "Everybody is too complacent," Cote said.-- AP

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