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U.S. investors put rally on hold ahead of key economic data

U.S. investors put rally on hold ahead of key economic data

Investors traded stocks cautiously Thursday ahead of economic reports that could extend or stifle a two-day rally that pushed the Dow Jones industrials past 12,500.
Stocks were little changed as Wall Street awaited reports on December consumer confidence data, existing home sales for November, and a report on Midwest business activity. All three reports come out at 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT).
The market surged Wednesday after a better-than-expected government report on new home sales suggested the housing slump could be at the bottom of its decline. A drop in oil prices this week also lent support to stocks in the final week of the year.
With little in the way of corporate news, Apple Computer Inc. fell amid reports of a federal probe into the possible forgery of documents to boost executives' profit. Chief Executive Steve Jobs is said to have received 7.5 million stock options in 2001 without proper board approval.
In the first hour of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 8.17, or 0.07 percent, to 12,502.40, retreating from its record close of 12,510.57. The index also hit a record trading level of 12,519.22 on Wednesday.
Broader stock indicators were lower. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.92, or 0.13 percent, to 1,424.92, and the Nasdaq composite index gave up 5.64, or 0.23 percent, to 2,425.58.
The advance this week leaves major indexes heading toward double-digit gains for the year. The Dow is now up 16.7 percent this year, while the Nasdaq has risen 10 percent and the S&P 500 is up 14.2 percent.
Bonds were unchanged, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note flat at 4.65 percent. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices continued to rally.
Oil and natural gas prices pushed below $61 per barrel this week on speculation the mild winter weather will depress demand for heating fuel. The market could get more detail when a crude inventory report is released at 10:30 a.m. (1530 GMT).
A barrel of light sweet crude rose 24 cents to $60.58 in pre-opening trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Among stock moves, Apple continued to slide on speculation it mishandled appropriating stock options to its top executives. The company also allegedly forged documents administering them. Shares fell $1.44 to $80.08.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was down 0.20, or 0.03 percent, at 797.53.


Updated : 2021-10-22 20:24 GMT+08:00