U.S. stocks end flat on European concerns

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U.S. stock prices finished largely flat Wednesday as investors avoided equities.

They await news from the European Central Bank to see if the eurozone will cross hurdles on its road to recovery.

Profit taking sent stocks falling also, as investors felt an impressive January rally that carried into early February was due for a breather.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 0.05%, the S&P 500 index was also up 0.05%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.10%.

The European Central Bank will address monetary policy on Thursday, and while market talk called for no change to interest rates, concerns ECB President Mario Draghi may suggest headwinds still face the eurozone economy sent the euro sagging.

The euro has strengthened in recent weeks, fueling fears the European Central Bank may find it tough to craft policies that foster recovery while controlling inflation at the same time.

Meanwhile in Germany, government data revealed that the country’s factory orders rose 0.8% in December, missing expectations for a 0.9% gain though much better than November’s 1.8% contraction.

Across the Atlantic in the U.S., crude oil inventories rose less than expected last week, according to government data released on Wednesday.

In a weekly report, Energy Information Administration said that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.62 million barrels, missing expectations for a gain of 2.77 million barrels.

During the week prior, oil inventories rose by 5.95 million barrels.
Gasoline stockpiles rose unexpectedly.

The Energy Information Administration said that gasoline stockpiles rose by 1.738 million barrels last week after contracting 956,000 during the week prior.

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