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Stocks close with small losses after huge swings

Trader Gregg Maloney works on the floor of

Trader Gregg Maloney works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Monday, Jan. 12, 2015. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Volatility surged in the U.S. stock market Tuesday as the Dow Jones industrial average erased both a 282-point rally and a 143-point decline, and then closed with a small loss.

The roller-coaster swings between gains and losses came as oil prices fluctuated near the lowest level in five years, while copper plunged.

JUST THE NUMBERS. At the close on Wall Street, the Dow was down 26.2 points, or about 0.2 percent, at 17,613.7. The index rose as much as 282 during the morning and fell as low as 143 points during the afternoon.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended down 5.2 points, 0.3 percent, at 2,023. The Nasdaq composite gave up 3.2 points, about 1 percent, to 4,661.5.

COPPER: Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and Newmont Mining Corp. slumped as copper prices dropped on fear of lower demand, Bloomberg News reported.

OIL STAYS VOLATILE: Oil fell after the energy minister for the United Arab Emirates said Tuesday there are no plans for OPEC to curb production to shore up falling crude prices. The price of oil has slumped 57 percent since this past June as traders bet that the supply glut will persist. West Texas crude closed down 18 cents at $45.89 a barrel Tuesday on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after dipping below $45 during the afternoon.

TECHNOLOGY GAINS: Both Apple and were among the shares that had pulled up the technology sector. At the close, Apple was up 97 cents at $110.22, and had added $3.33, about 1.1 percent, to $294.74.

JOBS OUTLOOK: U.S. employers advertised the most job openings in nearly 14 years in November, the Labor Department said Tuesday. That suggests businesses are determined to keep adding staff because they are confident that strong economic growth will create more demand for their goods and services.

Job openings rose 2.9 percent to 4.97 million in November, the most since January 2001. More job vacancies generally lead to more hiring.

FLYING HIGH: Airlines, big users of fuel, were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 index as oil continued to drop.

THE QUOTE: Stock market volatility has picked up at the start of the year, but that shouldn't worry investors, said Janet Dougherty, a global investment specialist in Chicago at JPMorgan private bank.

"You have to remember that, we've been through an extended period where there wasn't a lot of volatility in the equity and now were just getting back to normalized levels," said Dougherty.

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