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Stocks End Mixed; Dow Snaps 4-Day Rally

Thursday, 9 Aug 2012 | 4:42 PM ET

Stocks ended narrowly mixed in lackluster trading Thursday, with the Dow breaking a four-day winning streak, as investors digested a better-than-expected jobless claims report against waning optimism over the ECB to tackle the region's debt crisis.

“We’re going to drift until something concrete happens—it’s like watching paint dry,” said Alan Valdes, director of floor operations and VP of trading at DME Securities. “Nothing’s settled in Europe and we’re still waiting for the Fed to see if they’re going to do anything…we’re probably going to trade this way for the rest of the summer.”

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 10.45 points, or 0.08 percent, to finish at 13,165.19, breaking a four-day winning streak.

The S&P 500 squeezed out a gain of 0.58 points, or 0.04 percent, to end at 1,402.80. The Nasdaq gained 7.39 points, or 0.25 percent, to close at 3,018.64.

The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, ended below 16.

Consumer staples led the key S&P sector laggards, while materials held small gains.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week, slipping 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 361,000, according to the Labor Department. (Read More—Economy Should Be Growing Much Faster: Rosenberg)

Trade deficit narrowed in June as lower oil prices curbed imports, according to the Commerce Department. And wholesale inventories in June posted their steepest decline since September, according to the Commerce Department.

In China, reports showed inflation fell to a 30-month lowand industrial production dropped to the lowest in just over three-years. Retail sales numbers also missed expectations, suggesting that the “hard landing” scenario for China may be underway. (Read More: China’s Slowdown Is So Bad, the Market's Cheering)

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Discussing where to find value in the markets, with Kevin Caron, Stifel Nicolaus; Michael Gibbs, Raymond James; and CNBC's Ron Insana & Rick Santelli.

“This runup we’ve seen in treasurys and the dollar is because people are looking for safety,” said Alan Knuckman, chief trading advisor at OneStopOption.com on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.” “The reality is that people are going to be chasing better yields so I’m looking for that money to unwind…I’m still looking for a lot of positive things to happen as all this nervousness gets pushed aside.”

JPMorgan slipped after the bank revised its first-quarter results to show a lower profit, after deciding that the value of certain derivatives held by its main investment arm was overstated. The reduction reflects a pre-tax loss of almost $6 billion during its "London Whale" trading debacle earlier this year.

E-Trade Financial jumped after the financial services company ousted its CEO Steven Freiberg, amid declining trading from customers.

Cisco rallied after Goldman Sachs added the Dow component to its "conviction buy" list. Also, Piper Jaffray raised its rating on the tech bellwether to "overweight" from "neutral" and boosted its price target to $22 from $20.

Kohl's posted a profit that topped estimatesdespite weak sales.

Monster Beverage tumbled after the energy-drink producer reported results that missed expectations.

Department-store chain Nordstrom and chipmaker Nvidia are scheduled to report after the closing bell.

On the M&A front, National Oilwell Varco said it will buy Robbins & Myers in a deal worth $2.54 billion.

English soccer team Manchester United is set to finalize its initial public offering, prior to listing on the NYSE Friday. The company will trade under the ticker symbol "MANU" and shares are expected to price between $16 and $20 each.

Treasury prices extended their lossesafter the government auctioned $16 billion in 30-year notes at a high yield of 2.825 percent and bid-to-cover of 2.41.

—By CNBC’s JeeYeon Park (Follow JeeYeon on Twitter: @JeeYeonParkCNBC)

Coming Up This Week:

FRIDAY: Import/export prices, USDA crop production report, Manchester United IPO; Earnings from JCPenney

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