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U.S. Stocks Little Changed on Jobs Data, Egypt Concerns

U.S. stocks were little changed as reports depicting an improving job market tempered concern over political turmoil in Egypt and Portugal.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.3 percent to 1,610.03 at 10:35 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average swung between gains and losses near the 14,930 level. U.S. stock markets are closed tomorrow for the Independence Day holiday amd will shut at 1 p.m. today.

“Today’s data was largely in line with expectations and isn’t having a particularly strong impact on the markets,” Lawrence Creatura, a Rochester, New York-based fund manager at Federated Investors Inc., which oversees about $380 billion, said by phone. “Other factors appear dominant. The list is long but the most important factor today seems to be the events in Egypt and the collateral impact on energy markets.”

The S&P 500 yesterday fell less than 0.1 percent to 1,614.08. The gauge has slipped 3.3 percent since May 21, the day before Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank may taper bond purchases if the U.S. economy improves in line with forecasts.

Oil futures surged to as high as $102.18 a barrel, the most since May 2012, as political unrest in Egypt sparked concern of Middle East supply disruptions and as a report showed U.S. stockpiles shrank in the week ended June 28.

Egypt, Portugal

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi defied protests demanding his resignation, hours before a military-imposed deadline. Clashes between Mursi supporters and opponents intensified with at least 23 people killed over the past day, according to state-run media. The army said July 1 it would impose its own plan if Mursi didn’t end the turmoil and meet the people’s demands within 48 hours.

In Portugal, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho told voters in a televised speech from Lisbon yesterday that he’s trying to hold his government together after Foreign Affairs Minister Paulo Portas, leader of junior coalition party CDS, quit.

Jobless claims decreased by 5,000 to 343,000 in the week ended June 29 from a revised 348,000 in the prior period that was higher than initially reported, the Labor Department said today in Washington. The Bloomberg survey median called for 345,000 claims. A separate report showed companies in the U.S. boosted employment by 188,000 workers in June, according to Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Research Institute. The median forecast of 38 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for an advance of 160,000.

The data come before the government’s monthly labor report on July 5. That report will probably show employers created 165,000 jobs in June, from 175,000 a month earlier, according to the median forecast of economists in a Bloomberg survey. The unemployment rate probably fell to 7.5 percent, matching April’s four-year low.

“Both the ADP number and initial jobless claims were better than consensus and better than the previous month,” Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, which manages about $58 billion, said by telephone. “That might signal a better number this Friday on jobs.”

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