Stocks edge up in early trading as data show Europe in recession

Stocks edged higher in rocky early trading amid economic data showing Europe back in recession and persistent concerns in the U.S. about pending negotiations over how to avert a fiscal crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 13 points, or 0.1%, to 12,584. The Dow fell nearly 200 points Wednesday.

The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up 2 points, or 0.2%, to 1,358.

The Nasdaq was up slightly but essentially flat at 2,848. On Wednesday, the tech-heavy index entered correction territory as it dropped to a level 10% below its recent mid-September high.

The Eurozone fell back into recession in the third quarter. Gross domestic product in the 17-country bloc fell  0.1% in the third quarter, after a 0.2% drop in the second quarter, according to Eurostat. A recession is traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of declining GDP.

In the U.S., initial jobless benefit claims unexpectedly jumped by 78,000 to 439,000 last week, compared to the previous week. The increase in claims was partially attributed to Superstorm Sandy.

The major economic issue in the United States remains the fiscal cliff. President Obama and congressional leaders are to begin discussions over how to avert the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes due to take place at the end of the year. Economists warn the issue, if left unresolved, could push the U.S. back into recession.


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