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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, September 12, 2012. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, September 12, 2012. (BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)

The close: Dow falls, after approaching record high Add to ...

U.S. stocks surrendered early gains on Thursday, closing lower after the Dow Jones industrial average came within 15 points of touching a new record high.

The Dow closed at 14,054.49, down 20.88 points or 0.2 per cent – after rising as high as 14,149.15 earlier in the day. The S&P 500 closed at 1514.68, down 1.31 points or 0.1 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,820.90, up 88.51 points or 0.7 per cent.

The late-day swoon by U.S. indexes didn’t have a clear source – though the end of the month can have an impact on stocks, and the U.S. is set to endure across-the-board spending cuts after Washington failed to agree on a solution to budget spending.

U.S. economic growth in the fourth quarter was revised up – ever-so-slightly – to 0.1 per cent. In the first estimate, the economy had contracted 0.1 per cent.

In a separate report, weekly initial jobless claims fell to 344,000, down 22,000 – a bigger drop than economists had been expecting.

Canada’s Big Banks were in focus following a flurry of fiscal first quarter financial results. Royal Bank of Canada rose 0.9 per cent after reporting an 11 per cent gain in net earnings, to $1.36. On an adjusted basis, earnings beat analysts’ expectations.

Toronto-Dominion Bank rose 0.7 per cent after reporting its quarterly results and raising its dividend. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce fell 0.9 per cent after it held its dividend unchanged.

In the U.S., Groupon Inc. ousted its chief executive, Andrew Mason, after markets closed. The share price fell 24.3 per cent during regular hours, before rebounding in after-hours trading..

Among key commodities, gold fell to $1580.33 (U.S.) an ounce, down $17.07. Crude oil fell to $91.87 a barrel, down 89 cents. Suncor Energy Inc. rose 1.1 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 1.1 per cent

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