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Stocks close mixed ahead of jobs report

Following a dismal performance Wednesday, the Dow fell about 41 points, the S&P 500 dropped about one point, and the Nasdaq gained about four points

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Chinese hackers were suspected of trying to steal passwords from hundreds of Google email accounts, including senior U.S. government officials, Chinese activists and journalists, the Internet company said. China's Foreign Ministry denied the accusations.

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For-profit education stocks such as DeVry and Apollo Group spiked to the top of the S&P 500 index after U.S. officials softened rules that could have cut off tuition aid to the schools.

On the IPO front, Groupon announced it will go public, filing for a $750 million IPO. The deal-of-the-day site said it earned $645 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2011. The firm is expected to trade under the ticker symbol "GRPN."

In addition, Internet radio company Pandora raised its IPO size to up to $141.6 million and said it would price the offering at $7-$9 apiece. Pandara expects to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "P" after the offering.

Oil prices slipped, reversing earlier gains, after an unexpected jump in crude oil inventories. U.S. light, sweet crude gained 11 cents to settle at $100.40 a barrel, while London Brent crude also rose above $115 a barrel.

Meanwhile, gold declined 0.7 percent to settle at $1,532.70 an ounce.

Volume on the consolidated tape of the New York Stock Exchange was 3.7 billion shares, while 1 billion shares changed hands on the NYSE floor.

On the economic front, initial claims for unemployment fell less than expected, the Labor Department reported. Meanwhile, nonfarm productivity grew slightly more than previously estimated, while labor costs increased slightly less than expected.

And factory orders slipped in April, the biggest decline in almost a year, the Commerce Department reported.

European shares fell to a one-week closing low amid concerns about the pace of the global recovery. Meanwhile, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet Thursday said there should be a euro-zone finance ministry to oversee euro zone fiscal policy.