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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks wavered between gains and losses Thursday as investors weighed good news on the job market against increasingly violent protests in Libya.
The Labor Department said fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week, a sign that the job market is recovering. The four-week average for applications, a figure closely watched by financial analysts, fell to the lowest level in more than two and a half years.
In Libya, army units loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi struck back at protesters in Tripoli and attacked a mosque outside of the city where many anti-government demonstrators had taken refuge. Rebels control much of the eastern part of the country, effectively splitting Libya into two.
The clashes sent oil up to nearly $100 a barrel Thursday. Libya is the world's 15th largest exporter of crude, accounting for 2 percent of global daily output. Traders are worried the revolt could threaten Libya's oil production and spread to other countries in the region, such as oil-rich Saudi Arabia.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 10 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,095. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1, or 0.1 percent, to 1,308. The Nasdaq composite index rose 16, or 0.6 percent, to 2,738.
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