Rally Stalls As Troops Near Baghdad

Stocks pulled back Thursday as allied troops approached Baghdad for what U.S. officials said could be a difficult battle.

Weak service sector and initial jobless claims reports also weighed on stocks, as traders braced for Friday’s monthly unemployment report and the start of earnings season.

The Nasdaq was unchanged at 1396, the S&P 500 fell 4 to 876, and the Dow lost 44 to 8240. Volume declined to 1.33 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.46 billion on the Nasdaq. Decliners led 17-14 on the NYSE, and by a few issues on the Nasdaq. Downside volume was 61% on the NYSE, and 38% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 77-16 on the NYSE, and 112-37 on the Nasdaq.

After the close, Research in Motion topped estimates. PeopleSoft , Sybase , STMicroelectronics , Neoware and Advent all warned.

During the day, Dell rose 2% after reaffirming guidance.

Cognos surged 6.8% after beating estimates. Interwoven fell 3% after its CEO resigned, and Cerner and JDA plunged on warnings.

CMGI climbed 3% after unloading uBid

AOL added 1% on a deal with Best Buy .

HP rose 2% after slashing server prices.

Microsoft , up 0.1%, and Sun , down 0.3%, returned to court.

And IDC reported that war is restraining IT spending.

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