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Stocks Face Mixed Start

Higher oil keeps the bulls from running.

Stocks were mixed early Thursday as oil prices continued their upward march and a crush of corporate-finance news hit the tape.

Index futures recently showed the

S&P 500

trading 2 points above fair value, while the Nasdaq 100 was set for a 2-point decline. The 10-year Treasury bond was up 3/32 in price to yield 4.79%, while the dollar fell against the yen and euro.

Stocks have had two volatile sessions, falling Tuesday as traders sold on the

Federal Reserve's

rate pronouncements and bouncing Wednesday amid broad strength in tech. For the week so far, the


is down 63 points, or 0.5%, while the

Nasdaq Composite

has risen 25 points, or 1%. The S&P 500 is unchanged.

Oil continues to provide a bearish backdrop, with crude starting the day at a two-month high. On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council authorized a statement giving Iran 30 days to halt uranium enrichment, an action that will spur more anxiety about worldwide oil supplies. May crude recently rose 20 cents to $66.65 a barrel.

Overseas markets were higher, with London's FTSE 100 recently adding 0.7% to 5998 and Germany's Xetra DAX climbing 0.5% to 5941. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei added 0.6% overnight to 17,045, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.9% to 15,881.

Among companies,


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plans to sell 5.3 million new shares in an effort to accommodate index funds who must buy the stock after its insertion in the S&P 500. The deal will raise $2.1 billion at current prices.

General Motors

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reportedly is talking to overseas bidders about the sale of its 7.9% stake in Isuzu Motors. Meanwhile, the

Wall Street Journal

says the automaker is also closer to unloading a controlling stake in finance arm GMAC for $9 billion.

Three weeks after making a $4.2 billion offer for the London Stock Exchange, the



dropped the hostile offer, without elaborating. Nasdaq officials said they reserved the right to renew the bid over the next six months.




second-quarter earnings fell 40% from a year ago to $34.1 million, or 13 cents a share. Adjusted earnings of 17 cents a share were 6 cents ahead of estimates and the company guided its year in line.

In ratings news, Prudential upgraded



to neutral from underweight a day after the Justice Department said it wouldn't block the company's acquisition by


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on antitrust grounds.