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Stocks End Mixed, Nasdaq Higher as Jobless Claims Fall to 52-Year Low

Stocks end mixed Wednesday during the last full trading session before Thanksgiving.

Stocks finished Wednesday as investors turned their attention to inflation and growth during the final full trading session of the Thanksgiving holiday week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 9 points, or 0.03%, to 35,804, while the S&P 500 edged up 0.23% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq advanced 0.44%.

Initial jobless claims for the period ended Nov. 20, meanwhile, fell to a post-pandemic low -- and the lowest since 1969 -- of 199,000, thanks in part to seasonal adjustments that typically follow the Veterans' Day holiday.

"Jobless claims blew it out of the water this week—a welcomed signal that the recovery is still strong despite some recent jitters around rising Treasury yields and Covid spikes," said Mike Loewengart, managing director of investment strategy with E-Trade Financial. 

"And the somewhat muted second GDP read isn’t likely to rock the boat -- keep in mind it’s still a notch higher than we saw last month."

Loewengart added that "while we got some generally good news this morning, investors are likely still focused on pending [Federal Open Market Committee] minutes looking for any more detail on tapering plans."

The core October PCE Price Index rose 4.1% from last year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. That was faster than the upwardly revised tally of 3.7% for September and largely in line with Wall Street forecasts but still added to investors' concerns about the sticky nature of consumer prices.

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Meanwhile, the 10-year Treasury note yields were down to 1.639%, which helped lift tech stocks. 

In company news, Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report shares rebounded after an early slip when Founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk unveiled another batch of share sales, offloading just over $1 billion in the clean-energy car maker.

Gap  (GPS) - Get Gap, Inc. (GPS) Report shares tumbled 24.1% after the apparel retailer cut its full-year profit forecast following a disappointing third quarter earnings report marred by supply chain disruptions and rising input costs.

Nordstrom  (JWN) - Get Nordstrom, Inc. (JWN) Report also dropped, ending down nearly 30% after the department store retailer warned of holiday supply shortages as rising labor costs and supply chain delays wreak havoc across the sector.

Edward Moya, senior market analyst for the Americas with Oanda, noted that "retail earnings have disappointed this week."

"Yesterday, Best Buy’s  (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report comp sales guidance unnerved many investors and that was followed by disappointing results from Nordstrom and after Gap cut its annual forecast," Moya said. 

"A strong consumer and pent-up demand was supposed to make this a strong holiday season for retail, but margin and wage pressures are disrupting many retailer outlooks."

Deere  (DE) - Get Deere & Company Report shares jumped 5.3% after the industrial equipment maker posted stronger-than-expected fourth quarter earnings while noting supply chain pressures will continue to challenge an otherwise solid profit outlook for its coming fiscal year.