U.S. Stocks Drift to a Mixed Close in Quiet Day 

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks closed slightly lower in extremely light trading Thursday as investors remained on the sidelines ahead of the year-end holidays. The price of crude oil continued to recover.

The& Dow& Jones industrial average fell 50.44 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,552.17. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.30 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,060.99 and the Nasdaq composite rose 2.56 points, less than 0.1 percent, to 5,048.49.

Dec 24 is almost always the quietest trading day of the year, and this year was no exception. Roughly 1.4 billion shares changed hands on the New York Stock Exchange, a third of what’s typical and the lowest volume for this day since 2013.

U.S. and European markets will remain closed Friday.

While stocks were slightly lower Thursday, U.S. markets had a solid week. The S&P 500 rose nearly 3 percent and is back into positive territory for the year, albeit barely. It is not uncommon for stocks to rally into the end of the year, as investors close their books and reposition themselves for the next year.

Oil prices continued to recover from lows earlier in the week. U.S. crude futures gained 60 cents to close at $38.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, rose 53 cents to close at $37.89 a barrel in London.

Energy stocks didn’t benefit from oil’s climb. The energy component of the S&P 500 index fell 0.9 percent, the most of the 10 industry sectors in the S&P 500 index.

In other company news, bond insurer MBIA rose 51 cents, or 8 percent, to $6.75 after Puerto Rico’s struggling electric power company reached a deal with its creditors. MBIA insured the bonds issued by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

The dollar edged lower to 120.28 yen from 120.88 yen a day earlier. The euro rose slightly to $1.0964 from $1.0912.

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