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US markets closed mostly lower; Dow reports minor gains

The US markets closed mostly lower on Thursday, while the Dow closed at a record for a third session in a row, the broader markets sagged on the back of weak retail shares. North Korea made more threats in response to the latest United Nation sanctions, vowing to sink Japan with a nuclear weapon and reduce the US mainland to ashes and darkness. The acerbic rhetoric comes after the UN Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted tougher sanctions against North Korea targeting its exports and oil imports.

On the economy front, the number of Americans who sought unemployment benefits in early September declined, but the effects of Hurricane Irma could keep new jobless claims at elevated levels over the next few weeks. Initial jobless claims in the period running from September 3 to September 10 slipped to 284,000 from 298,000. Claims had surged at the end of August to a two-and-a-half year high after Hurricane Harvey puts lots of people in the thriving Houston metropolis temporarily out of work. A monthly average of jobless claims seen as a more stable barometer of labor-market trends rose by 13,000 to 263,250. That's the highest level in a year, though it's expected to turn lower again by the end of the month. The number of people already collecting unemployment checks, known as continuing claims, fell by 7,000 to 1.94 million in the first week of September.

Meanwhile, higher housing costs and gas prices socked consumers in August, but the cost of medical care grew at the slowest rate since 1965. The consumer price index, or cost of living, surged 0.4% last month to mark the biggest increase since January. An index that tracks the cost of shelter - houses, apartments, hotels - also posted the biggest monthly increase since 2005. The shelter index rose 0.5%, including a big increase in rents. The rise in consumer prices in August lifted the yearly increase in inflation to 1.9% from 1.7%, just a shade below the Federal Reserve's 2% target.

The Nasdaq dropped 31.11 points or 0.48 percent to 6,429.08, the S&P 500 lost 2.75 points or 0.11 percent to 2,495.62, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 45.3 points or 0.20 percent to 22,203.48. 

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