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RealTime IT News

Stocks Hang On to Post Gains

A late-day increase in crude oil prices, along with a weak manufacturing report, erased most of the gains posted by U.S. stocks Thursday, though major indexes managed to finish in the black.

Stocks surged early in the day when crude oil prices declined. Hurricane activity in the Gulf of Mexico has raised concerns about U.S. oil output in that region, which produces about one-quarter of the nation's oil and gas. Still, the morning drop in crude prices emboldened investors.

Also boosting shares early was a Consumer Price Index report showing 0.1 increase, indicating that inflation currently is under control.

The markets began a long slide, however, after the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported factory activity in the Philadelphia area grew at a significantly slower pace in September.

The Philly Fed's activity index plunged more than 50% in September to 13.4 from 28.5 in August, the smallest gain in more than a year. Wall Street had anticipated the September index to be in the mid-20s.

The Labor Department on Thursday announced that initial job claims rose 16,000 in the week ending Saturday to a seasonally adjusted 333,000.

The Dow Jones finished at 10244, a gain of 13 points, or 0.13%, but off the morning high of 10281.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 8 points, or 0.4%, to close at 1904, while the S&P 500 inched up 3 points, or 0.3%, to end at 1123.50.

Among tech holdings, chip maker Intel declined 31 cents, or 1.5%, to $20.11. The company announced Thursday that it would not build a plant in Brazil, citing costs.

Database software maker Oracle slipped 10 cents, or 0.9%, to $11.23. Oracle announced after Tuesday's market close that net income for the first quarter was up 16% from the year-ago quarter. But the company's outlook for the current quarter was at the low end of analysts' expectations.