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Stock indexes mixed in pre-Christmas trading

Stocks ended mixed in a light day of trading Thursday after reports showed small improvements in consumer spending and the job market.

The Commerce Department reported that consumer spending rose 0.4 percent in November from the month before. The Labor Department said the number of people applying for unemployment benefits for the first time dropped by 3,000 last week to 420,000.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 11,573.49. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.07, or 0.2 percent, to 1,256.77. The Nasdaq composite index fell 5.88, or 0.2 percent, to 2,665.60.

All three indexes ended the shortened trading week higher. The Dow rose 0.7 percent. The S&P 500 rose 1 percent, and the Nasdaq 0.8 percent.

Alcoa gained 1.3 percent to $15.34 to lead the 30 stocks that make up the Dow. Bank of America Corp. had the largest fall. It lost 2.4 percent to $13.06.

In corporate news, Jo-Ann Stores Inc. said it would be bought by a private equity firm for $1.6 billion. The stock rose 32 percent to $60.19.

Bond prices fell slightly. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.39 percent from 3.35 percent late Wednesday.

Falling stocks outpaced rising ones by a small margin on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was a light 616 million shares on the last trading day before Christmas. Markets will be closed Friday for the holiday. - AP

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