The taxman says three and a half million people are due a refund, but two million will have to fork out for underpaid tax.
US stocks follow global markets dip
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 19 points at 13,597
A batch of worrying economic figures pulled US stock markets slightly lower as measures of manufacturing and business activity in both China and Europe slumped.
The American railroad Norfolk Southern warned it is shipping fewer goods, and the government gave investors another reminder that the job market remains weak.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.79 of a point to close at 1,460.26. The Nasdaq composite index dropped 6.66 points to 3,175.96. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.
The Labour Department reported that 382,000 people applied for unemployment benefits last week, more than economists had expected. When applications consistently top 375,000, it suggests hiring is too weak to lower the unemployment rate.
More evidence of sluggishness came from Norfolk Southern. The railroad said that falling coal prices and a drop in shipments was likely to drag down quarterly earnings. That followed a warning from FedEx earlier this week that global trade has slumped to recession levels. Norfolk Southern's stock sank 6.58 dollars to 66.11 dollars.
In other trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 18.97 points to 13,596.93. Kraft Foods led the Dow up with a 1.9% surge, ending up 76 cents at 41.60 dollars.
Stronger earnings pushed ConAgra Foods up 6.2%. The maker of Healthy Choice packaged meals and Slim Jim beef jerky said its profit more than doubled, helped by lower food costs and a strong gain from a hedge on commodity prices. ConAgra's stock rose 1.59 dollars to 27.24 dollars.
The property website Trulia soared 41% in its first day of trading. Trulia priced its initial public offering at 17 dollars on Wednesday, raising 102 million dollars. Trulia's stock closed at an even 24 dollars.
The three major indexes have gained nearly 4% in September, historically the worst month for stocks. Since 1950, the S&P 500 has averaged a drop of 0.5% for the month. The Dow has lost an average of 0.8%.
Among other stocks making moves, Starbucks gained 1.08 dollars to 51.19 dollars. The coffee giant said it will start selling a single-serve coffee machine starting at 199 dollars. The Verismo will compete with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters' Keurig machine and Nestle's Nespresso.
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