Stocks Struggled after Jobless Claims Data

U.S. stocks opened little changed on Thursday as investors bypass positive figures on the labor front and await any developments in efforts to avert the fiscal cliff.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 1.50 points, or 0.01%, to 13,035.99. The S&P 500 index gained 0.02 point to 1,409.30. The Nasdaq Composite was up 3.58 points to 2,977.28.

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits fell for the third straight week, but they still haven’t fallen to quite the same level that prevailed before the superstorm Sandy smashed into the Northeast in late October. Initial jobless claims sank by 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 370,000 in the week ended Dec. 1, the Labor Department said Thursday.
President Barack Obama takes his “fiscal-cliff” campaign to the home of a family in Northern Virginia on Thursday to illustrate the impact of letting taxes go up on the middle class, as signs emerge that Republicans are contemplating a change in strategy in their battle with Democrats over deficit reduction.

The European Central Bank held interest rates at a record low of 0.75 percent on Thursday, leaving investors to shift their attention to new economic forecasts for clues about possible cuts next year.

World food costs slipped for a second month in November as prices for oilseeds and cooking oils as well as sugar fell to the lowest in two years, the United Nations ‘ Food & Agriculture Organization said.

Apple Inc’s rank in China’s smartphone market, which is set to become the world’s largest this year, fell to No.6 in the third quarter as it faced tough competition from Chinese brands, research firm IDC said on Thursday.

Separately, Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company will produce one of its existing lines of Mac computers in the United States next year.







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