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Wall Street Mixed in Early Trading

February 6, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ Stock prices have turned mixed in early trading after declining modestly at the open, matching the largely negative tone seen in Europe’s markets. The Dow Jones Industrial average is down 3 points to 7,982 in early trading. The Nasdaq Composite Index is up 7 points and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index is down a fraction.

Analysts say the seemingly growing threat of war with Iraq continues to hang over the market like a dark cloud.

Stock futures dipped upon release of this morning’s weaker-than-expected fourth quarter productivity report. The Labor Department says output per hour of work declined 0.2 percent, far from the 0.7 percent gain economists were looking for.

There was also word that new claims for unemployment benefits fell last week by a seasonally adjusted 11,000.

While the latest jobless claims figures suggested that the pace of layoffs may be stabilizing, the job market is seen as still sluggish.

Economists believe the nation’s unemployment rate was probably at 6 percent last month as payrolls grew by nearly 70,000 jobs. The government will report on the January employment situation before the opening bell Friday.

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