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Stocks traded mixed most of the day, but managed to eke out a gain in the final hour of trading as investors continued to buy on the dips.  The S&P 500 closed higher by 0.40%.   Investors will be eager to hear earnings reports from 4 bellwethers over the next 24 hours: IBM, Google, Bank of America and GE.   Daily Futures wraps up the action from across all markets:

U.S. Economy – Jobless claims improve
The U.S. Labor Department said that jobless claims were down 10,000 to 514,000, the lowest in nine months.

The Labor Department also said that consumer prices were up .2% in September, but down 1.3% from a year ago. The December 2010 eurodollars ended down .055 at 98.255.

The New York Federal Reserve’s regional index of manufacturing increased from 18.9 to 34.6 in October, much stronger than expected and the highest in five years.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve’s regional index of manufacturing fell from 14.1 to 11.5 in October, still a sign of expansion.

According to Realty Trac, there were 343,648 U.S. foreclosure filings in September, down 4% on the month, but up 29% from a year ago. It was the second monthly decline.

Officials in Europe and Canada have recently expressed concerns about the falling price of the dollar having negative impacts on their economies, but no specific actions are being discussed (officially).

Grains and Cotton
It is hard to tell yet how much of the corn or soybean crop has been lost in the past week due to adverse weather, but December corn fell a dime to $3.73 with glimpses of better harvest weather in the forecast ahead.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that Egypt bought 180,000 tons of wheat from France. December wheat was down 8 cents at $5.05.

December cotton closed up .56 at 67.64, another new one-year high and the fourth consecutive day higher, still effected by adverse harvest weather.

December cattle were up .07 at 85.65 ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s monthly on-feed report.

Dow Jones Newswires reported that cocoa farmers in the western region of the Ivory Coast are on strike, unhappy with the lack of financial support from the government’s management committee. December cocoa closed up $118 at $3,267.

March sugar closed up 1.14 cents at 23.85, still influenced by tight world supplies.

December copper started the day lower, but finished up 1.45 cents at $2.8590 after today’s strong manufacturing report from the New York Fed and disappointing report from the Philly fed.

December gold closed down $14.10 at $1,050.60, backing away from this week’s new record highs. Traders may also have been disappointed that today’s consumer price report showed no evidence of inflation.

Energies – Crude oil breaks higher
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said that crude oil supplies were up 400,000 barrels last week to 337.8 million barrels in spite of lower imports. Supplies of gasoline were down 5.2 million barrels while heating oil supplies were down 200,000 barrels. December crude oil jumped up $2.48 to $78.08, the highest close in eleven months.

The DOE also said that refinery use fell from 85.0% to 80.9% last week. Over the past four weeks, gasoline demand was up 5.3% from a year ago while distillate demand was down 10.8% from a year ago.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that underground supplies of natural gas were up 58 billion cubic feet last week to 3.716 trillion cubic feet. Supplies are now up 14% from a year ago. December natural gas was up 5.6 cents at $5.413.

Statistics Canada said that manufacturing sales totaled C$40.9 billion in August, down 2.1% on the month and down 20% from a year ago.

Consumer prices in the EU-27 were up .3% in September from a year ago.

The December British pound closed up 2.99 cents at $1.6263, the highest close in three weeks, boosted by comments from an official at the Bank of England that “suggested” that monetary stimulus was working and may not be needed in the near future.

The Bank of Japan said in its monthly assessment that the “economy has started to pick up” and “economic conditions are likely to improve gradually.” The December yen fell .0139 to 1.1039.

Source: Daily Futures

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