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U.S. stocks were little changed, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index headed toward its third straight annual gain, after concern over Spain’s budget deficit overshadowed optimism the American economy will expand in 2012.
Data signaling that the world’s largest economy was weathering Europe’s crisis helped the market rebound during the fourth quarter. The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent in November, the lowest since March 2009, after lingering at 9 percent or above for seven straight months. Equity futures erased gains today after Spain said its budget deficit will reach 8 percent of gross domestic product this year, more than the previous forecast of 6 percent. Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker, who leads the group of euro- area finance ministers, said economic growth in the euro region “isn’t good” and the world economy is growing only in some Asian and African countries.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported the world’s second-largest economy may face “downside pressure” next year, even though growth will be more than 9 percent in 2011.
Dow 12,252.26 -34.78 -0.28%, Nasdaq 2,613.30 -0.44 -0.02%, S&P 500 1,261.03 -1.99 -0.16%
JPMorgan Chase & Co., the largest U.S. bank by assets, sank 0.8 percent as financial companies slumped.
Sears Holdings Corp. retreated 1.6 percent after Fitch Ratings downgraded its long- term default ratings.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. rose 1.1 percent as commodity producers posted the biggest gains out of 10 groups in the S&P 500.
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