US stocks open little changed; Deere slumps

Stocks, indexes unchanged ahead of Thanksgiving

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks opened little changed on Wednesday, keeping the major indexes near record levels, as investors assessed the latest reports on the economy.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose less than one point to 2,067 as of 9:54 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial fell 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,802. The Nasdaq composite climbed eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,766.84.

MIXED PICTURE: Investors got three got reports Wednesday morning that gave mixed signals about the strength of the U.S. economy. Orders for long-lasting manufactured goods rose in October, but a key category that tracks business investment plans declined sharply for a second straight month.

A separate report showed that the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits jumped last week, pushing total applications above 300,000 for the first time in nearly three months. Another report showed U.S. consumers spent modestly more in October, a slight improvement after no gain at all in the previous month.

HOLIDAY SEASON: The U.S. stock market will be closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday. It will also close at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.

DOWN ON THE FARM: Deere's fourth-quarter results were stronger than Wall Street expected, but the company said its farm equipment sales and profits will keep falling in its new fiscal year as the sector remains weak. Deere's stock slid $2.94, or 3.3 percent, to $84.84.

ENERGY: Oil prices fell again ahead of a meeting of OPEC members in Vienna on Thursday. Benchmark crude was down 52 cents at $73.55 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $1.69 to close at $74.09 a barrel on Tuesday.

EUROPE'S DAY: Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.1 percent to 6,723 and Germany's DAX was up 0.3 percent at 9,890. France's CAC 40 shed 0.2 percent to 4,373.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices edged higher. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent from 2.26 on Tuesday. The dollar edged down to 117.60 yen from 117.85 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2508 from $1.2477 late Tuesday.

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