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Though the markets experienced a dip at the open, indexes finished slightly positive ahead of Friday's job report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 6.26 points (+0.04%), Standard & Poor's 500 index increased 3.25 points (+0.21%), and the Nasdaq finished up 4.14 points (0.15%). Volume on the NYSE was light at 1.08 billion shares, and advancers beat decliners by a ratio of about 5:3.

The Department of Commerce released data showing factory orders decreased 3.3%, compared to economists' estimate of a 2.8% decline (full story). Weekly initial jobless claims increased to 317,000, higher than the expected 310,000. These sets of data usually barely impact the market, and that was especially true today with all eyes on the jobs report tomorrow. Also, banks in Europe made news this morning by doing nothing, as both the European Central Bank and Bank of England left interest rates unchanged (full story). The US 10-year Treasury was up 9/32, dropping its yield to 4.52%.

Eight of the ten sectors finished up Thursday, with the utilities (+0.8%), telecom (+0.6%), and industrial (+0.4%) sectors outperforming their peers. Consumer discretionary and tech finished slightly negative. Nutrisystem (-33.6%) plunged on news that it issued a warning on third quarter revenues and earnings (full story). Marriot International (-4.6%) was down after saying profits fell 7% from last year in its earnings release (full story). As this was being written, Research in Motion's released its earnings. After ending today's session up 4.2%, the stock is up slightly despite an initial sell off. Crude rallied later in the day to finish up $1.53 to $81.47/barrel. The dollar index dropped 0.3%.

The jobs report (8:30 AM) will move the market tomorrow. Economists are looking for an increase of 100,000, but we learned that anything can happen after last month's atrocious number.

Sources: TheStreet.com, Yahoo Finance
Commentary: Research in Motion Higher Ahead of Earnings; Touch Screen Blackberry Coming?Disney Begins Implementing New Strategy
Stocks/ETFs to watch: NTRI, MAR, RIMM

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Source: Thursday Wrap – Dow +0.04%, S&P +0.21%, NQ +0.15%