U.S. stocks closed on a mixed note ahead of a key jobs report due Friday, even as investors digested steady American jobless claims data amid fresh concerns surrounding Europe's debt crisis.
S&P 500 Index lost 0.06 percent to finish at 1,398.08. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.11 percent to end at 13,060.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 3,080.50, up 0.40 percent.
The government is set to release the all-important employment report for March on Friday, when the stock market will be closed for Good Friday. Economists expect the U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs last month, slightly lower than 227,000 new jobs reported in February. The unemployment rate is expected to remain steady at a three-year low of 8.3 percent for the third consecutive month.
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Meanwhile, the number of Americans who continued to receive jobless benefits dropped to the lowest level since 2008, a government data showed. Jobless claims fell 6,000 to 357,000 last week from a revised 363,000 in the previous period, while economists projected 355,000 claims.
On the European news front, a weak Spanish bond auction on Wednesday renewed worries about the euro zone's financial health. Spain's 10-year yield jumped 8 basis points to 5.78 percent, hitting nearly a 3-month high, even as Spanish bonds fell for the third straight day.
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In corporate news, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (Nasdaq: BBBY) jumped 8.49 percent to end at $71.85 after the home furnishing retailer's quarterly results came in better than forecast. BBBY earned $1.48 a share on sales of $2.73 billion for the fourth quarter.
Constellation Brands Inc. (NYSE:STZ) retreated 12.47 percent to finish at $21.61 after the wine and spirits maker forecast 2013 EPS below consensus. STZ sees comparable EPS of $1.93 to $2.03, trailing analysts' expectations of $2.23 per share.
Polycom Inc. (Nasdaq: PLCM) plunged 19.96 percent to close at $14.56 after the maker of video conferencing hardware guided first-quarter, below Wall Street projections, saying shortfalls in Asia Pacific and North America resulted in lower-than-expected growth rate. The company sees non-GAAP EPS between 21 cents and 23 cents for the quarter, trailing consensus estimate of 30 cents.