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Stocks opened lower this morning, pulled down by a report that the trade deficit narrowed only slightly and another lawsuit against cigarette makers.

At noon the Dow Jones industrial average was down 5.22 points to 6,053.98.

Advancing issues were almost even with decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 214.76 million shares at 11 a.m., down slightly from Thursday's pace.

The technology-dominated Nasdaq composite index was down 2.06 at 1239.90.

Shares at the nation's two largest tobacco companies, Philip Morris Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., were trading more than 3 percent lower after word that New York City is suing cigarette makers in a bid to recover billions of dollars spent on health costs attributed to smoking-related illnesses.

Also this morning, the Commerce Department reported that the deficit edged down 6.6 percent from a July gap of $11.6 billion, which was the biggest imbalance since the government began tracking monthly goods and services trade in 1992.

Overseas, Tokyo's Nikkei stock average rose 0.9 percent. In afternoon trading, Frankfurt's DAX index was up 0.7 percent and London's FT-SE 100 was up 0.4 percent.

On Thursday, blue-chip stocks marched to record highs for the third time this week.

The Standard & Poor's 500-list also notched its third new high this week.

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