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Stocks pull back from record levels on Wall Street

NEW YORK — The stock market pulled back from record levels Thursday as investors became harder to please.

Even a decline in the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits failed to give stock prices a boost. Markets drifted lower in early trading, fluctuated between gains and losses in the afternoon, then ended slightly lower.

Unemployment claims dropped to a five-year low last week, the Labor department reported early Thursday. That signals fewer layoffs and possibly more hiring.

While the report failed to boost stocks, it did give the dollar a lift. The U.S. currency climbed against most major currencies and traded above 100 yen for the first time in more than four years. The Japanese currency has weakened dramatically this year due to the Bank of Japan's massive monetary stimulus.

An improvement in hiring at U.S. employers has been one of the key factors that pushed stocks up to record levels. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 15,000 for the first time Tuesday and is on track to notch six straight months of gains. The Standard and Poor's 500 index also closed at a record high Wednesday.


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