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Dow, Nasdaq Lose Ground; S&P 500 Books Slight Gain

Standard & Poor's two-notch downgrade of Spain's debt rating proved a positive, fostering investor optimism that the move may help speed up Spain's timeline on requesting financial aid.

Moody's, which already has placed Spain on watch to be downgraded to junk status, likely will go next, according to Stephen Guilfoyle, U.S. economist at Meridian Equity Partners.

"The perception ... is that this or these downgrades make it that much easier for Spain to ask for the help they need when their huge debt bill comes due in about 10 days," said Guilfoyle. "By Spain asking for help, the ESM can then purchase Spanish sovereign debt in the primary market, and the ECB can then activate their OMT program to buy said debt in the secondary market. The provided liquidity will take the pressure off of the throat of Spain, at least for now, kicking that proverbial can a much further ways down that road."

Wall Street was greeted by another strong employment datapoint as the Labor Department said initial jobless claims in the week ended Oct. 6 fell 30,000 to 339,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised 369,000.

The four-week moving average was 364,000, a decrease of 11,500 from the prior week's average of 375,500.

Continuing claims for the week ended Sept. 29 were 3.273 million, a decrease of 15,000 from the preceding week's upwardly revised 3.288 million.

Economists, on average, predicted initial jobless claims of 370,000 and continuing claims of 3.275 million.

John Ryding and Conrad DeQuadros, the founders of research firm RDQ Economics, cautioned against reading too much into the drop in initial jobless claims.

They "can be difficult to seasonally adjust in the first week of a quarter and the Labor Department noted that most of the decline in initial claims was due to filings in one state ... it will likely take a couple of weeks before we can assess the underlying level of claims."

The Census Bureau reported that the U.S. trade deficit widened to $44.22 billion in August from $42.47 billion in July. Economists were expecting a U.S. trade deficit of $44 billion.
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