Stocks Mostly Up on Domestic Data

U.S. stocks closed largely higher on Thursday as bank shares rallied and investors put aside concerns over European bank financial strength in favor of better U.S. economic data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 2.72 points, or 0.02%, at 12,415.70. The S&P 500 advanced 3.76 points, or 0.29%, to 1,281.06. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 21.50 points, or 0.81%, to 2,669.86.

Worries about Europe’s banking sector pushed the euro to a new 15-month low against the dollar Thursday. The euro fell as low as $1.2775 early Thursday, its lowest point since September 2010.

The U.S. economy ended 2011 on an upswing and the last monthly jobs report of the year is expected to show further progress in hiring. Businesses likely added a net 150,000 workers in December, according to a consensus of economists surveyed by MarketWatch.

Morgan Stanley is predicting that the economy will slow dramatically in early 2012, which it thinks will prompt another round of Fed asset purchases.

Crude-oil futures fell on Thursday after a government weekly supply data showed a surprise increase in inventories. Crude oil for February delivery fell 36 cents, or 0.4%, to $102.86 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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