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US stock market drifts a day after setting record

By MATTHEW CRAFT

AP Business Writers NEW YORK (AP) - The U.S. stock market crept higher in Thursday trading, a day ahead of the government's monthly jobs report. In European markets, losses turned to gains when the head of the European Central Bank said he was ready to take more steps to revive the region's struggling economy. The news knocked the euro to a two-year low.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up five points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,028 as of 1:42 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 61 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,545, while the Nasdaq composite slipped gained seven points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,628.

CAREFUL NOW: JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade's chief strategist, said it's understandable for traders to turn cautious a day after the stock market reached a record high. It's also one day before the government's monthly employment survey, a key economic report that often jolts markets.

"We're coming off all-time highs yesterday, and that always makes people a little bit nervous," he said. "I also think we're seeing a tone of caution ahead of the jobs report, just in case."

BIG UPS: Whole Foods Market jumped 10 percent, the most in the S&P 500 index, after reporting earnings late Wednesday that came in well ahead of what investors were expecting. Whole Foods rose $4.29 to $44.29.

QUARTERLY SCORE SHEET: Better earnings from big companies have helped push the market higher over recent weeks. With more than eight out of 10 companies in the S&P 500 having turned in results, third-quarter earnings are on track to rise nearly 9 percent, according to S&P Capital IQ. Before results began to roll in, analysts were looking for earnings to rise 6 percent. Sales are another story. Third-quarter revenue is on pace to rise just 3 percent.

ELECTRIC DARLING: Tesla Motors posted results that beat Wall Street's estimates and set a record for deliveries of its flagship sedan, the Model S. But losses continued to pile up, as the maker of electric cars installed charging stations and opened stores across Asia. Tesla gained $11.28, or 5 percent, to $242.31, putting the car company's stock up 62 percent this year.

DRAGHI, CENTER STAGE: Mario Draghi said the ECB would engage in further unconventional stimulus measures, such as large-scale bond purchases to pump newly created money into the economy, "if needed." The ECB has come under increasing pressure to provide more support to help shore up the European recovery and prevent prices from falling. Draghi spoke following the ECB's decision to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.05 percent.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "Draghi has a tendency to cause hysteria in the markets even when he potentially doesn't mean to," said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari. "It only takes the slightest suggestion that further easing is likely, or that (bond-buying) is a possibility, and the markets go wild."

EUROPE: European stock markets turned higher after Draghi's talk. Germany's DAX closed with a gain of 0.7 percent, while the CAC-40 in France gained 0.5 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares picked up 0.2 percent.

EURO: Draghi's comments pushed the euro lower. The currency fell from $1.252 before he took to the stage to $1.239, its lowest level since August 2010.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average dropped 0.9 percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2 percent.

ENERGY: Crude oil fell 69 cents to $77.99 a barrel in New York. It swooned earlier in the week on reports that Saudi Arabia was cutting prices for U.S.-bound oil.

BONDS: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.37 percent.

___

AP Business Writer Pan Pylas contributed from London.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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