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Stocks Close Higher Despite Job Losses

Wholesale inventories for November also surprised the market, rising 1.5%. Economists had expected a 0.2% dip from October's level.

Earlier, the Eurostat said November's unemployment rate in the 16-nation eurozone rose to the highest level since August 1998 at 10%, up marginally from 9.9% in October.

The FTSE in London was up by 0.1% and the DAX in Frankfurt was up 0.3%. In Asia, Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.1% and Japan's Nikkei was higher by 1.1%.

The U.S. dollar was trading lower against a basket of currencies, with the dollar index down 0.6%.

In commodities markets, the February gold contract settled at $1,138.90 an ounce after adding $5.20, while crude oil for February delivery gained 9 cents to settle at $82.75 a barrel.

Package shipper UPS (UPS - Get Report), which is considered to be an important economic indicator because it moves U.S. and global GDP through its system, raised its fourth-quarter guidance to between 73 cents and 75 cents a share, citing improved shipping volumes. Its stock rose $2.76, or 4.8%, to $60.17.

The UPS news, combined with a strengthening railroad sector, helped take the entire transportation realm higher, as the Dow Jones Transportation Average advanced 2.1%.

Shares of Worthington Industries (WOR) surged 8%, adding $1.28 to $17.35 on two separate upgrades that cited higher steel prices and improving volumes. Stocks of steel companies rose on the news with AK Steel Holding (AKS - Get Report) and United States Steel (X) up by 9.3% and 7.3%, respectively.

Investment bankers at Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) are likely to get bonuses that are similar to 2007 levels, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Education company Apollo Group (APOL - Get Report) reported higher first-quarter earnings on improved enrollment rates, but shares slipped after the company said the Department of Education has been looking into its financial aid policies. The stock fell $3.44, or 5.4%, at $60.50.

--Written by Melinda Peer and Sung Moss in New York.

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AKS $4.41 2.56%
APOL $19.21 -4.14%
BAC $15.42 0.06%
KO $40.35 -0.25%
UPS $96.64 -0.84%


DOW 17,678.23 -40.31 -0.23%
S&P 500 2,056.15 -4.90 -0.24%
NASDAQ 4,863.3620 -13.1570 -0.27%

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