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The New York headquarters of ratings agency Standard & Poor's is pictured in 2011. (Associated Press)

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Germany Europe Financ_Lea.jpg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel responds to questions at a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011, about the possibility that Standard & Poor's may downgrade the credit ratings of 15 eurozone countries, including Germany's. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

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A favorable report on jobless claims was a bit of good news in a gloomy economic picture that led to gains on Wall Street on Thursday. The Dow, Standard & Poor's and Nasdaq all closed in positive territory. (Associated Press)