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After a back-and-forth day dominated by continued uncertainty in Egypt and plunging shares of tech bellwether Cisco Systems, U.S. stocks landed on the fence on Thursday, preventing the blue chips from notching their first nine-day win streak since 1996..
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 10.60 points, or 0.09%, to 12229.29, the Standard & Poor's 500 rose 0.99 points, or 0.07%, to 1321.87 and the Nasdaq Composite gained 1.38 points, or 0.05%, to 2790.45. The FOX 50 dropped 0.44 points, or 0.05%, to 943.45.
While the Dow's win streak came to an end, it did manage to wipe out most of its 80-point gain as traders attempted to shake off Cisco's (CSCO) gloomy guidance and make sense of premature reports that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would resign after weeks of turmoil.
“The fact the market had hung in as well as it had with Egypt hanging over us is really remarkable," Ted Weisberg, veteran NYSE trader from Seaport Securities, told FOX Business.
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The markets were also digesting an unexpected tumble in weekly jobless claims to the lowest levels since July 2008.
It would have been the first nine-day win streak on the Dow since November 1996 and just the eighth over the past 40 years.
Wall Street bounced off its lows just as countless media outlets began reporting Mubarak may step down, seemingly giving a resolution to the tumultuous situation there. However, Mubarak was defiant in a televised address just as U.S. markets closed, saying he will stay in office, but give more power to his vice president.
The markets have been fearful the tensions in Egypt would spill over to oil-producing nations like Saudi Arabia or cause the closure of the Suez Canal, which crude oil relies on for transport out of the region.
Even though the initial reports about Mubarak's resignation would have seemingly been bearish for crude oil, crude settled up 2 cents a barrel, or 0.02%, to $86.73. Gold declined $2.90 a troy ounce, or 0.21%, to $1,361.90.
Much of the earlier attention was on Cisco Systems, which sold off after the network equipment maker spooked Wall Street with a third-quarter non-GAAP EPS view of 35 cents to 38 cents. Even the upper end would miss the Street's view of 40 cents. Cisco also said its full-year sales would come in at the lower end of its earlier range and posted a decline in margins. Cisco traditionally has an outsized role in moving the tech sector because it was among the first to predict trouble in the recession and to call a bottom more than two years ago.
Wall Street was also keeping an eye on the U.S. dollar, which surged against its peers, putting pressure on dollar-traded commodities and multinationals that stand to gain from a weaker greenback. The euro slumped 0.98% to $1.3594.
After a week of virtually no market-moving economic reports, Wall Street barely seemed to notice a new Labor Department report saying initial jobless claims tumbled by 36,000 last week to 383,000 -- the lowest level since July 2008. Economists had called for a dip of just 4,000. Continuing claims declined by 47,000 -- nearly doubling estimates -- and the four-week moving average also slid by 16,000.
Google (GOOG) and Facebook have held low-level buyout talks with Twitter, The Wall Street Journal reported. Sources told the paper that at least some potential suitors have talked about an estimated valuation in the neighborhood of $8 billion to $10 billion. However, the talks with Facebook and Google have so far gone "nowhere," the Journal reported.
Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) surged 25% after the telecom-equipment group revealed its non-GAAP profits soared 45% to a stronger-than-expected 394 million euros. Sales jumped 23% to 4.86 billion euros.
Sprint Nextel (S) jumped almost 6% after saying it added 1.1 million total wireless subscribers last quarter -- its first subscriber gain since the second quarter of 2007. Sales rose to $8.3 billion, topping the Street's view of $8.15 billion. However, Sprint posted a fourth-quarter loss of 31 cents a share, compared with the loss of 30 cents analysts had called for.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 0.53% to 6020.01, Germany's DAX gained 0.26% to 7340.28 and France's CAC 40 closed up 0.11% to 4095.14.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 declined 0.11% to 10605.70, Hong Kong's Hang Seng tumbled 1.97% to 22708.60 and China's Shanghai Composite leaped 1.59% to 2818.16.