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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Stocks close down after choppy day

UPDATED at 4:24 p.m.:

Stocks nosedived in the last two hours of trading today after a choppy day that saw equities flirt with positive territory several times but fail to hold on.

The Dow closed down 1.1 percent at 10,782.95.

The broader S&P 500 closed down 1.2 percent at 1,157.43. The tech-heavy Nasdaq closed down 1.3 percent at 2,394.36.

It was an unusual day on Wall Street. Despite strong guidance from Cisco chief executive John Chambers, the company's stock closed down 4.5 percent. Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the NYSE.

Stocks were discouraged from the get-go this morning, following a new report from the government that showed first-time jobless claims filed last week remain stubbornly high.

Stocks plunged toward closing bell

3:43 p.m.: Volatility has ruled the day so why should the last hour of trading be any different?

Stocks are plunging toward the closing bell. The Dow is down 1.1 percent, the broader S&P 500 is down 1.3 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 1.5 percent.

The volatility index (VIX) or "fear index" has jumped radically in the past 30 minutes.

Stocks turn negative at mid-day

12:07 p.m.: Stocks have turned solidly negative as Wall Street hits mid-day trading.

A little after noon, the Dow is down three-tenths of 1 percent.

The broader S&P 500 an the tech-heavy Nasdaq are both down nearly half of 1 percent.

I'm guessing that continued uncertainty about the European debt crisis is weighing on the markets. The euro is moving down against the dollar, which backs up that guess.

Stocks still volatile at opening

9:52 a.m.: Volatility continues to rule on Wall Street, as stocks responded to their strong rally on Wednesday by opening lower today and moving toward a mix result.

In the first 30 minutes of trading, the Dow is down a little more than one-tenth of 1 percent.

The broader S&P 500 is down two-tenths of 1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq has been moving above and below the flat line.

Last Friday, the Dow closed down. On Monday, the Dow was all over the place before closing up. On Tuesday, it rallied strongly before giving back most of the day's gains before closing. And on Wednesday, it was one continuous rally.

What are we to think of this? Well, Europe is stabilized -- on paper. But that's only on paper. When the Greece austerity measures kick in, you'll probably see some real rioting on the streets of Athens. Germany is not happy about having to prop up Greece. The U.K. needs to get its deficit under control or face a ratings downgrade.

Here in the States, we're adding jobs to payrolls but unemployment and new jobless claims remains stuck stubbornly high. All that said, the financial system is stabilized. Nevertheless, there's not a lot of certainty out there and if you don't believe that, look at the new highs that gold is setting every day.

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By Frank Ahrens  |  May 13, 2010; 4:24 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker , Wall Street  | Tags: Business, Dow, Equities, Investing, NASDAQ, S&P 500, Stocks and Bonds, Wall Street  
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Comments

You are so predictable. Buy time so all the alarms don't start going off automatically. I need to drop out of sight. Sight seeing beats see sawing and it's see sawing again. Where to next?

Posted by: tossnokia | May 13, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

It's stabilized until it's nosediving. Now you have ghost in the machine effect and Friday to deal with and we could be into a death spiral. This could get ugly and get there real fast. Stay positive and flirt. I think we're flirting with disaster. At least we're flirting. That should be worth a gain, so Friday looks good. I'm going to the speed shop in the morning and for now I'm crashing.

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