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Dec. 20, 2012 at 1:06 PM
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Stocks start session off, then turn

NEW YORK, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. stocks indexes fought into positive territory Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange as initial jobless claims rose and "fiscal cliff" negotiations appeared to stall.

Investors in New York were waiting for the "fiscal cliff" drama to unfold in Washington as House Republicans planned to vote to raise tax rates on income of more than $1 million Thursday, a move that has no chance of passing the Senate and faces a presidential veto if it does.

First time jobless claims for the week ended Saturday rose 17,000 to 361,000.

In early afternoon trading, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 1.39 points or 0.01 percent to 13,253.36 after spending most of the morning in the red.

The Nasdaq was down 5.67 points or 0.19 percent to 3,038.69.

The Standard & Poor's 500 bucked inched up 0.95 points or 0.07 percent to 1,436.76.

The 10-year treasury note was trading was up 4/32 to yield 1.793 percent.

Against the euro rose to $1.3237 from Wednesday's $1.32. Against the yen, the dollar was fell to 84.34 from 84.36 yen Wednesday.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei lost 121 points, or 1.19 percent, closing at 10.039. The London FTSE fell 0.05 percent to 5,958.34 while the German DAX rose 0.03 percent to 7,670.71.

ICE makes $8.2B play for NYSE

ATLANTA, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The IntercontinentalExchange said it has reached an $8.2 billion agreement to buy New York Stock Exchange, a market icon.

The deal would enable ICE, a 12-year old firm with its headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., to expand its derivatives business and its image, as the New York Stock Exchange is a symbol of New York and even U.S. financial prowess, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Thursday.

The merger is subject to regulatory approval. For ICE, it would be the second attempt to get a purchase offer for the stock exchange past regulators.

ICE made a joint $11 billion bid for NYSE Euronext in April 2011 with NASDAQ. But U.S. regulators indicated they would not approve and the offer was canceled.

NYSE Euronext also struck a tentative deal with Deutsche Boerse that was valued at $10 billion, but that deal also fell through, the newspaper said.

First time jobless claims climb by 17,000

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Labor Department Wednesday said first-time jobless benefits claims rose by 17,000 in the week.

There were 361,000 first-time claims in the week, a drop from the previous week's revised figure of 344,000.

The four-week rolling average for the week was 367,750, a decrease of 13,750 from the previous week.

The unadjusted advance number of first-time unemployment benefits claims under state programs totaled 400,422 for the week, a decrease of 28,766 from the previous week, the Labor Department said.

Crude oil stockpile down 1 million barrels

WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. crude oil inventories and prices at gas stations fell last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.

The agency said inventories declined by 1 million barrels to 371.6 million barrels. Supplies of crude oil remain well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year, the agency said in a report issued late Wednesday.

The national average price of gasoline at the pump fell by 9.5 cents in the week to $3.254 per gallon.

The current average price is 2.5 cents more than the price in the same week of 2011, the agency said.

The EIA said supplies of distillate fuels, which include home heating oil, fell by 1.1 million barrels to 117 million barrels. Inventories of distillate fuels, however, "remain well below" the lower limit of the average range, the agency said.

Stockpiles of gasoline rose by 2.2 million barrels to 219.3 million barrels this week, holding above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.

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