Dow Jones loses ground amid worries about Europe

The stock market offered a reminder Friday that even if the U.S. job market is improving, there’s plenty to worry about elsewhere in the world.

The unemployment rate fell in December to 8.5 percent, the lowest level in nearly three years. Yet stock indexes teetered between small gains and losses all day as traders fretted about Europe’s ongoing financial drama. U.S. bank stocks fell on concerns that the debt crisis will spread through the financial industry.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 55.78 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,359.92. Alcoa Inc. was the Dow’s biggest loser, slipping 2.1 percent. A Citi analyst forecast that the aluminum maker lost money in the fourth quarter of 2011 for the first time since the recession. Alcoa, which reports earnings Monday, said late Thursday it would close an aluminum smelter in Tennessee and other operations to cut costs.

In other trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 3.25 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,277.81. The Nasdaq composite index rose 4.36, or 0.2 percent, to 2,674.22.

It was the second day in a row of indecisive trading on the stock market. The Dow and the S&P closed nearly unchanged Thursday. The indexes still had strong gains in this first, shortened trading week of the year. The Dow is up 1.2 percent this week, the S&P 1.6 percent. Trading was closed Monday, when the New Year’s Day holiday was observed.

PayPal service begins tests in five Home Deport stores

NEW YORK – EBay’s PayPal service is testing out a payments system in brick-and-mortar Home Depot stores.

PayPal spokesman Anuj Nayar said Friday that the system is being tested in just five stores and involves a small number of PayPal employees. That means it’s not available to the general public and likely won’t be for some time.

The move is part of eBay’s strategy to expand beyond the desktop computer into mobile devices and other aspects of everyday life. EBay CEO John Donahoe had mentioned the plans in October during the company’s earnings conference call.

To pay using PayPal, customers will be able to enter their phone number and a pin code, or use a special PayPal card.

Nevada’s largest casinos post $4 billion loss in 2011

CARSON CITY, Nev. – Nevada’s largest casinos suffered a combined $4 billion loss in 2011.

A report released Friday by the state Gaming Control Board shows 256 casinos grossed $1 million or more in gambling revenue for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

Combined, they had total revenue of $22 billion and posted a net loss of $3.9 billion from the previous year.

In 2010, the largest casinos had a net loss of $3.4 billion on total revenues of almost $20.9 billion.

Total revenue includes money spent by patrons on gambling, rooms, food, beverages and attractions.

The report says revenue from gamblers accounted for nearly $10.2 billion, or 46 percent, of total revenue.

Casinos paid $792 million in taxes and fees, equating to 7.8 percent of gambling revenue.

— From news service reports