U.S. stocks end mixed amid Europe uncertainty

@CNNMoneyInvest May 10, 2012: 4:26 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- U.S. stocks ended mixed Thursday afternoon as investors welcomed a slight dip in jobless claims but remained cautious amid ongoing uncertainty in Greece and the rest of Europe.

"The situation in Europe remains fluid, and we're not likely to get much clarity for awhile, so today is one of those days when a lack of really bad news is good news," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 20 points, or 0.2%, snapping a six-day losing streak, and the S&P 500 (SPX) added 3 points, or 0.3%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) lost 1 point.

Cisco (CSCO, Fortune 500) was the biggest laggard on all three indexes, with shares tumbling more than 10%. Late Wednesday, the networking giant released a disappointing sales outlook for the current quarter.

Europe remains in the spotlight Thursday as Greek politicians continue to struggle to form a coalition government and Spanish bond yields keep rising.

After the Greek radical left party failed to gain consensus, Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos was given the mandate to form a coalition government by the Greek president on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Spain moved to take over Bankia -- one of Spain's largest and most troubled banks -- late Wednesday.

U.S. stocks bounced back somewhat from a sharp sell-off Wednesday, but all three major indexes closed in the red as investors continued to fret about Greece and Spain.

World markets: European stocks closed with slim gains. Britain's FTSE 100 (UKX) ticked up 0.3%, DAX (DAX) in Germany gained 0.7%, while France's CAC 40 (CAC40) rose 0.4%.

The Bank of England held its key interest rate steady and did not increase its asset-buying program at the conclusion of its two-day meeting Thursday, despite a recent report that showed the U.K. has fallen into a new recession.

Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) closed 0.1% higher, while the Hang Seng (HSI) in Hong Kong slid 0.5% and Japan's Nikkei (N225) edged lower 0.4%.

China reported import and export growth that was slower than expected, according to forecasts from economists at HSBC. The report could stir new concerns from investors around the globe about a so-called hard landing for China's economy, but HSBC said it is also likely to prompt further monetary policy easing by the People's Bank of China.

Economy: The number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits in the U.S. fell 1,000 to 367,000 in the latest week. Economists surveyed by Briefing.com had expected the report to show 365,000 claims.

The U.S. trade deficit widened to $51.8 billion in March from $45.5 billion in February, according to the Commerce Department. The deficit was narrower than the $53 billion economists had expected.

The Treasury Department on Thursday recorded a $59 billion surplus for the month of May, marking the first time in more than three years that Washington took in more money than it paid out. Tax receipts were higher and spending lower than they were last April.

Companies: Beauty products company Avon (AVP, Fortune 500) said that perfume-maker Coty raised its unsolicited bid for the company to $24.75 a share from its earlier offer of $23.25. Avon's board said it will consider the offer. Shares of Avon declined.

Department store chain Kohl's (KSS, Fortune 500) reported earnings per share of 63 cents, down from 69 cents a year earlier but still better than the forecast of 61 cents from analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. But the company gave earnings guidance for the current quarter that was below current forecasts, sending shares lower.

Currencies and commodities: The dollar fell against the euro and the British pound, but gained against the Japanese yen.

Oil for June delivery gained 27 cents to settle at $97.08 a barrel.

Gold futures for June delivery rose $1.30 to settle at $1,595.50 an ounce.

Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.88% from 1.84% late Wednesday. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 24,525.02 -132.78 -0.54%
Nasdaq 7,746.25 -35.27 -0.45%
S&P 500 2,756.43 -10.89 -0.39%
Treasuries 2.90 -0.02 -0.82%
Data as of 11:28am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Advanced Micro Devic... 15.99 -0.53 -3.21%
Micron Technology In... 59.43 0.48 0.81%
General Electric Co 12.70 -0.18 -1.40%
Kroger Co 28.62 2.45 9.34%
Intel Corp 52.37 -1.09 -2.04%
Data as of 11:13am ET
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