Closing Update: Wall Street Ends Flat, Loses Momentum As Retail Sector Sags

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Stocks finish unchanged to slightly lower as pressure on retail stocks weighed on the broader markets, eroding all of the gains tied to better-than-expected initial jobless claims. Disappointing earnings from Bed Bath and Beyond ( BBBY ) and Family Dollar ( FDO ) pulled the entire sector deep into negative territory. And even though the Nasdaq touched a new high, the tech-heavy index closed with a small loss as a result of selling pressure on Apple ( AAPL ) and Google ( GOOG ).

Today's disappointing close is also blamed on a lack of trader conviction going into Friday's pivotal jobs report. Although the Federal Reserve has already announced plans to begin scaling back quantitative easing this month, the possibility for more aggressive tapering may hinge on the status of the job market.

After Wednesday's strong ADP report and today's continued decline in new unemployment claims, some analysts are forecasting the jobless rate to fall below 7.0% for the first time in 5 years.

Initial jobless claims fell 15,000 for the week ended January 4th, a much greater decline than expected, driving down the 4-week average to 349,000 from 357,250.

European markets lost ground in sympathy with the U.S. stock market, as well as on remarks from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi who thinks weak economic conditions warrant additional stimulus measures.

Here's where the markets stand at the close:

US MARKETS

Dow Jones Industrial Index was down 17.89 (-.1%) to 16,444.76

S&P 500 was up 0.6 (+0.04%) to 1,838.13

Nasdaq Composite Index was down 9 (-0.2%) to 4,156.19

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

FTSE 100 was down 0.45%

Nikkei 225 was down 1.50%

Hang Seng Index was down 0.91%

Shanghai China Composite Index was down 0.82%

UPSIDE MOVERS

ICPT Trial to study obeticholic adic for the treatment of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis has been stopped earlier than planned after already meeting the primary endpoint.

CRDC Received 510(k) clearance of its MicroCutter XCHANGE 30 device and blue staple cartridge for medium thickness tissue from the U.S. FDA for certain uses.

MONT Preliminary revenue for Q4 was $35 to $35.5 million, exceeding its previously announced guidance of $32 million to $34 million.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

FDML Downgraded by Goldman Sachs to Sell from Neutral

AEZS, AEZ.TO Offered 11.0 million units at $1.20 each for net proceeds of about $12.2 million..

PIR Reported December same-store-sales fell 5.7%



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , BBBY , FDO , GOOG

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