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Stocks wobble as investors keep eyes on Washington

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm •  Published: December 6, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market wobbled between small gains and losses in afternoon trading Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 11 points at 13,045 shortly after 2 p.m. EST.

Apple rose $10 to $548.82, a day after taking its worst fall in four years. In separate interviews, CEO Tim Cook said Apple will produce one of its Mac computers in the United States next year and will spend $100 million in 2013 to shift production of the line from China.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points to 1,412, while the Nasdaq composite climbed 17 points to 2,990.

Investors' biggest concern remains the collection of automatic tax increases and federal spending cuts scheduled to start Jan. 1. "Everybody is paying close attention to the soap opera in Washington," said John Canally, investment strategist and economist at LPL Financial.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the White House and Republicans could reach an agreement "in about a week" if the Republicans drop their opposition to raising taxes on making more than $250,000 a year. That helped give the stock market its first gain of the week.

Most investors believe President Obama and Congressional Republicans will strike a budget deal to avoid this "fiscal cliff" before the year is out. Until they reach an agreement, however, the stock market will likely be hostage to news out of Washington.

"Yesterday was a good day," Canally said. "But we'll probably have a lot of bad days before we're through."

The U.S. Labor Department said unemployment benefits applications dropped 25,000 last week to 370,000, a level consistent with modest hiring. The decline was also a sign that the spike in applications caused by Superstorm Sandy has faded.

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