US stocks : Dow off 0.14 pct
Apple fell 2 percent to $628.10 after a U.S. appeals court overturned a preliminary injunction on the sale of Samsung's Galaxy Nexus smartphone, dealing a blow to the iPhone maker in a battle against Google's Android mobile software.
Traders have been bearish recently, with the S&P 500 down 2 percent in the last five sessions in anticipation of a weak earnings season. News that the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell to its lowest level in more than 4-1/2 years gave the market only marginal support.
Unless we get blowout numbers in the earnings season, this sort of volatile environment will likely continue in the near term, said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at New York-based Banyan Partners.
AT&T and Verizon also weighed after news that Japan's Softbank may buy a majority stake in their competitor, Sprint Nextel. Sprint shares rallied more than 13 percent but AT&T and Verizon lost more than 1 percent each on expectations of harsher market competition.
The S&P 500 is just over 8 percent below its record closing high, set five years ago, and the corporate results season that started this week is expected to show the first drop in year-on-year quarterly earnings since 2009.
We're so close to all-time highs, and there's so much talk of fundamentally
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