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U.S. stocks end trading mixed with slight losses

The New York Stock Exchange is seen on

The New York Stock Exchange is seen on Wall Street on May 1, 2012. Credit: Getty Images / John Moore

Stock indexes ended the day mixed with slight losses Thursday after clawing back from a broad decline earlier in the day. Health care companies and banks slumped, and on investors seemed edgy about strong economic data and comments from Federal Reserve officials suggesting monetary policy could be tightened by the end of the year.

ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 12.5 points, about 0.07 percent, at 18,268.5.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 1.04 points, about 0.05 percent, to 2,160.8. The Nasdaq composite was down 9.2 points, about 0.2 percent, at 5,306.9.

OIL PRICES: As markets closed, oil prices rose to their highest level since June. U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 73 cents to $51.11 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude, the international standard, rose 79 cents to $52.65 a barrel.

RATE HIKE: The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level since mid-April, fueling expectations that the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to increase interest rates before the end of the year. On Friday, the government reports on nonfarm job creation for September.

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