Wall Street mixed, looks past improved GDP data

Wall Street stocks were mixed Thursday, as traders shrugged off an upward revision in US economic growth and focused on concerns about the "fiscal cliff."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 2.8 points (0.02 percent) at 13,249.17 at 1650 GMT.

The broad-market S&P 500 gained 1.43 points (0.1 percent) at 1,437.24, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 2.10 points (0.1 percent) at 3,042.27.

Official data showed the US economy grew 3.1 percent in the third quarter, faster than previously estimated, but analysts said underlying economic activity remained fragile.

"The backward-looking nature of the number, though, and the understanding that (fourth quarter) GDP is tracking much lower, has diminished its influence as a market driver," said Briefing.com's Patrick O'Hare.

Investors were also digesting a boost in the sales of existing homes, which reached a three-year high in November. The uptick, however, was tempered by a 17,000 increase in initial jobless claims to 361,000 in the week ending December 15.

Thursday's market action came as Washington continued to wrangle about the so-called fiscal cliff, a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts that, in the absence of a political compromise by the end of the year, could take the world's biggest into recession.

Stocks in focus included NYSE Euronext, which soared 32.8 percent on word that InterContinentalExchange (ICE) would buy it for $8.2 billion in a deal that would create the world's biggest market operator. ICE dropped 1 percent.

Google dipped 0.1 percent. Late Wednesday, it announced it was selling the Motorola Mobility Home unit to global communications technology company ARRIS in a cash and stock deal valued at $2.35 billion.

Oracle slipped 0.4 percent after announcing it would buy Eloqua, a cloud software firm. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2013. Eloqua gained 31 percent.

On Wednesday, the Dow finished down 0.74 percent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.76 percent, while the Nasdaq lost 0.33 percent.

Thursday's bond prices stayed largely stable. The 10-year US Treasury yield inched downward to 1.79 to from 1.80 late Tuesday, while the 30-year stayed unchanged at 2.98.

Bond prices and yields move inversely.

--

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