Stocks finished mixed on Thursday amid new weekly employment data and concerns about the lack of progress on a fiscal stimulus plan in Washington. Congressional Democrats, who proposed a $3.4 trillion plan in May, appear prepared to compromise on a smaller plan in the $2 trillion range, while the White House and its Republican allies in the Senate have thus far refused to move from their original $1 trillion proposal. The negotiations could be further complicated by Thursday's data, which showed first-time unemployment benefit claims falling below 1 million for the first time since March, as well as a decline in continuing claims. Still, unemployment remains at record levels, with more than 28 million Americans receiving some form of unemployment benefits as of late July, up from 1.7 million a year earlier. The Dow fell 0.29%, the S&P fell 0.20%, and the Nasdaq rose 0.27%. Crude oil fell to $42 per barrel, while gold rose $12 to $1961 per ounce.
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