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By Jennifer Yousfi
The U.S. markets reversed course in afternoon trading, heading higher as commodities producers rallied and tech stocks got a boost.
Early morning losses were due to the high number of initial jobless claims and talk of a U.S. recession from Federal Reserve Chief Ben S. Bernanke in his second day of testimony before the Joint Economic Committee.
At midday in New York, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average Index was down 41.52 points (-0.33%), to trade at 12,564.31. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index increased 9.22 points (0.39%), to reach 2,371.97. And the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 2.30 points (0.17%), to hit 1,372.48.
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The basic materials sector (up 1.39%) and the energy sector (up 1.01%) posted the biggest gains, while the conglomerates sector (down 0.94%) and the consumer cyclical sector (down 0.95%) posted the largest declines.
Initial jobless claims for the week ended March 29 jumped by 38,000 to reach 407,000, marking the highest level seen for this economic indicator since mid-September 2005, MarketWatch reported.
At midday, the dollar had gained ground against the euro (up 0.224%) and the yen (up 0.157%), but lost ground against the pound sterling (down 0.456%).
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