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Dow nears record, then sputters; stocks lower

Mar. 01, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- The Dow Jones industrial average came within 15 points of its all-time high Thursday afternoon. But the momentum petered out, and the Dow and other indexes broke a two-day winning streak and closed lower.

Economic data and company reports reflected an economy beating investors' low expectations, rather than one growing like gangbusters. Impending government budget cuts also cast a pall for some investors.

The day started with the stock market plodding along before sending investors on a whipsaw day. After gaining a combined 291 points on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Dow spent Thursday morning darting between small gains and losses.

It took a decisive turn upward in the early afternoon. Around 2:30 p.m. EST, it hit 14,149 -- just 15 points from the Oct. 9, 2007 record of 14,164.53.

Then the rally sputtered and stocks turned lower in the final few minutes of trading.

The Dow ended down 20.88 points, or 0.2 percent, to 14,054.49. The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 1.31, or 0.09 percent, to 1,514.68. The Nasdaq composite index edged down 2.07, or 0.07 percent, to 3,160.19.

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