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Stocks Hold Near Record Levels         11/26 12:29

   U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, keeping the major indexes near 
record levels, as investors assessed the latest reports on the economy.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday, keeping the 
major indexes near record levels, as investors assessed the latest reports on 
the economy.

   KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 
percent, to 2,068 as of 1:01 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average 
fell 12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,802. The Nasdaq composite climbed 18 
points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,776.

   MIXED PICTURE: Investors got three got reports Wednesday morning that gave 
mixed signals on how the U.S. economy was doing. Orders for long-lasting 
manufactured goods rose in October, but a key category that tracks business 
investment plans declined sharply for a second straight month.

   A separate report showed that the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment 
benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the 
first time in nearly three months. Another report showed U.S. consumers spent 
modestly more in October, a slight improvement after no gain at all in the 
previous month.

   HOLIDAY SEASON: The U.S. stock market will be closed on Thursday for the 
Thanksgiving holiday. It will also close early, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time, on 
Friday. Stocks have barely budged this week ahead of the break. The S&P 500 
index has gained 0.3 percent since Monday and the Dow is flat.

   THE QUOTE: "This seems to be a classic holiday plateau," said Kristina 
Hooper, head of US Capital Markets Research & Strategy for Allianz Global 
Investors. "Probably, we are not going to get any focus until we come back on 

   THE CHIPS FALL: Analog Devices, a maker of semiconductors, was among the 
biggest gainers in the S&P 500 index after the company reported earnings and 
sales that exceeded Wall Street's expectations. The company said that its sales 
rose 20 percent in its fiscal fourth quarter ending Nov. 1 compared with a year 
ago. The company also expects 21 percent revenue growth in its first quarter. 
The company's stock rose $2.29, or 4.4 percent, to $53.99.

   DOWN ON THE FARM: Deere's fourth-quarter results were stronger than Wall 
Street expected, but the company said its farm equipment sales and profits will 
keep falling in its new fiscal year as the sector remains weak. Deere's stock 
slid 85 cents, or 1 percent, to $86.94.

   ENERGY: Oil prices were flat ahead of a meeting of OPEC members in Vienna on 
Thursday. Benchmark crude edged down 27 cents to $73.80 a barrel on the New 
York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.69 to $74.09 a barrel on Tuesday.

   EUROPE'S DAY: Britain's FTSE 100 was flat at 6,729 and Germany's DAX rose 
0.6 percent to 9,915. France's CAC-40 shed 0.2 percent to 4,373.

   BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices edged higher. The yield on 
the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.24 percent from 2.26 on Tuesday. 
The dollar edged down to 117.65 yen from 117.85 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose 
to $1.2507 from $1.2477 late Tuesday.


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