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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 20, 2005
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Stocks struggle in early trading
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NEW YORK The Standard and Poor's 500 and the Nasdaq composite are starting today's trading at new three-year highs, but stocks are mixed in the early going. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down nine points. Advancing issues on the New York Stock Exchange hold a narrow lead over decliners.

The Nasdaq Composite Index is off one point and the S-and-P 500 is down one point.

Stocks rose yesterday as investors welcomed a possible software merger, and the Federal Reserve issued a widely expected interest rate hike.

The Fed raised its benchmark interest rate by a-quarter point to two and a-quarter percent. In a statement that came out along with the decision, the central bank said low inflationary pressures should allow it to continue tightening rates at a "measured" pace.

A merger deal announced this morning by Sprint and Nextel Communications isn't giving the market an overall boost at this point.

The boards of the two companies unanimously approved a 35 (b) billion dollar merger that will create the third biggest wireless company in the U-S, with about 35 (m) million subscribers.

Besides mergers and the Fed, Wall Street will be watching today for the weekly oil inventories report.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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