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Updated from 4:04 p.m. EST

Stocks ended little changed Tuesday after spending most of the session lower due to a short-lived spike in oil and negative research on


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Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 3.12 points, or 0.03%, to 10,492.60; the

S&P 500

lost 0.3 points, or 0.03%, to 1176.94; and the


fell 0.91 points, or 0.04%, to 2084.28. The 10-year Treasury note was down 1/32 in price to yield 4.18%, while the dollar continued to ease against the yen and euro. The dollar sank to the 1.31 level vs. the European currency, a new all-time low.

Volume was still thin on Tuesday, with about 1.43 billion shares changing hands on the


. On the Nasdaq, about 1.66 billion shares turned over.

Oil finished higher but pared earlier gains that briefly sent stocks tumbling. The January crude contract closed Nymex floor trading up 30 cents to $48.94.

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"The market is just tracking what's happening in the oil pitch," said Peter Cardillo, chief market analyst with S.W. Back & Co. "There's really no major catalyst. We're in a pre-holiday trading mode as far as we're concerned. The market is doing quite nicely."

"We do need to get some catalysts, though, which may come next week with new economic numbers," Cardillo said.

The day's only economic release had little impact on the market. The National Association of Realtors reported that existing-home sales fell 0.1% in October to an annualized rate of 6.75 million units. The level, however, was slightly better than expectations.

"There's a fourth-quarter momentum charge through all the technical stocks," said Brian Williamson, an equity trader with Boston Company Asset Management. "Outside of that, there's a three- to four-week trend that's been pretty good. A lot of people are seeing a lot of momentum buying. It just keeps charging higher."


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said 44-year-old CEO Charlie Bell has stepped down to focus on his fight against cancer. The departure is the second top-level executive transition at the hamburger chain in seven months following the death of Jim Cantalupo in April. McDonald's named Vice Chairman Jim Skinner to succeed Bell as CEO and McDonald's USA CEO Mike Roberts president and chief operating officer. McDonald's finished up 72 cents, or 2.5%, to $30.10.

Intel fell Tuesday after CSFB cut its investment rating to underperform from outperform and dropped its price target by $3 to $22 a share. The brokerage cited possible demand difficulties as the marketplace shifts its preference away from central processing units to more specialized chips for consumer and communications applications. Intel ended down 73 cents, or 3%, to $23.37.

General Electric

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announced a deal Monday to acquire the transportation finance unit of


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for $4.4 billion in cash. GE Commercial Finance will acquire CitiCapital's Transportation Financial Services Group, which provides financing, leasing and asset-based lending to the commercial trucking industry. General Electric declined 28 cents, or 0.8%, to $35.81.

Time Warner


is nearing a settlement with the


over an investigation into accounting at its AOL unit, according to a

The Washington Post

report Tuesday. Time Warner would pay $750 million to end the case, $250 million more than previously expected. Time Warner rose 48 cents, or 2.8%, to $17.94.


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advanced after First Albany slapped a $195 price target on the stock and initiated coverage with a buy. The brokerage cited expected growth of Internet advertising, specifically paid search, and said Google was well-positioned to benefit from it. Google rose $2.42, or 1.5%, to $167.52.



said its fourth-quarter profit rose thanks to higher sales. The storage company earned $20.4 million, or 8 cents a share, up from $14.8 million, or 6 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose 13% to $55.6 million. Following the news, Merrill Lynch raised its rating from neutral to buy and raised its 2005 earnings estimate to 33 cents per share from 31 cents. Despite this boost, Brocade still finished down 28 cents, or 3.9%, to $6.87.

Overseas markets were mixed, with London's FTSE 100 up 0.2% to 4742 and Germany's Xetra DAX losing 0.2% to 4113. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei fell 2.1% overnight to 10,849, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.6% to 14,024.