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wallstreet – US stocks flat as oil prices drop and job data show resilience

NEW YORK – US STOCKS ended little changed on Friday as a sharp drop in oil prices and signs of resiliency in the job market offset worries that tighter credit is hurting consumer spending.

A drop of more than 2 per cent in oil prices buoyed shares of big manufacturers like Boeing Co and 3M Co.

Data showing modest payrolls growth last month helped ease recession fears and showed the job market remains resilient despite the crumbling housing market and tight credit conditions.

Credit card companies’ shares fell, however, after brokers downgraded the stocks and said tightening credit was pressuring consumer credit performance.

Shares of American Express Co fell more than 4 per cent, while Capital One Financial fell 5 per cent.

‘What looked like an economy that was falling apart as recently as two weeks ago suddenly sees news that

seems to be better than expected,’ said Mr Eric Kuby, chief investment officer at North Star Investment Management Corp.

The jobs report, he said, may have tempered expectations for a far more aggressive cut in interest rates next week when the Federal Reserve’s policy-setters meet on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished up 5.69 points, or 0.04 per cent, at 13,625.58. But the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed down 2.68 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 1,504.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 2.87 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 2,706.16.

For the week, however, all three major US stock indexes finished with gains – with the Dow up 1.9 per cent, the S&P 500 rising 1.6 per cent and the Nasdaq gaining 1.7 per cent.

Source: Reuters (The Sunday Times 9 Dec 07)

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