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US stock indexes drift in afternoon trading after Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba debuts

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NEW YORK — The stock market drifted sideways Friday afternoon as Wall Street watched Alibaba shares soar in their public debut. The Standard & Poor's 500 index hovered above its record close from the day before and remained on track for its best weekly gain in a month.

KEEPING SCORE: As of 2:40 p.m. Eastern time, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,298. The S&P 500 index rose one point, a fraction of a percent, to 2,012. The Nasdaq composite fell eight points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,584.

ALIBABA IPO: The Chinese giant Alibaba soared $24.43, or 36 percent, to $92.43. The online retailer priced its initial public offering of stock at $68 a share late Thursday, raising $21.8 billion from investors. In terms of market value, the IPO made Alibaba bigger than Amazon.com but smaller than the titan of tech, Google.

IN DEMAND: "We know there's a lot of demand from institutional and retail investors, so it's not a surprise to see it rally that quickly." said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade, the online brokerage.

"We thought it would be like a Twitter in terms of investor interest, but it's more like Facebook. We have three times as many orders as we had for Twitter."

GETTING OUT: Shares in Yahoo! fell $1.29, or 3 percent, to $40.80. The company reportedly sold 121 million shares of Alibaba in the Chinese company's IPO.

LATER, LARRY: Oracle's stock slipped 3.7 percent following the announcement late Thursday that Larry Ellison, the tech company's billionaire founder, is stepping down as CEO after 37 years. Ellison remains Oracle's biggest shareholder, owning a quarter of the software maker. Oracle's stock fell $1.54 to $40.01 in afternoon trading.

PHOTO: A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the decision of the Federal Reserve, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The Federal Reserve is signaling that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low for a considerable period because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
A television screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shows the decision of the Federal Reserve, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The Federal Reserve is signaling that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low for a considerable period because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

CLOUD LAND: SAP, the German business-software company, announced plans to buy Concur Technologies for $7.4 billion. Concur provides online software for managing business expenses. Its stock raced up $19.25, or 18 percent, to $127.05. That's below SAP's bid of $129 per share.

IT'S A NAY: Britain's main stock index made gains after voters in Scotland rejected a referendum to break from the U.K. Some warned that if Scotland left, uncertainty over the future value of the British pound and government debt would have rattled the U.K economy.

EUROPE: Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent. France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1 percent, and Germany's DAX was flat.

THE QUOTE: "Trading desks have been staffed in London, with all hands on deck around Asia and Australia," said Chris Weston, chief strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia. "The market was always positioned for Scotland to remain in the United Kingdom."

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.6 percent as the yen's weakness gave a boost to companies that rely on exports. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.6 percent while the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 0.6 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil was down 24 cents to $91.74 a barrel in the afternoon.

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AB Business Writer Kelvin Chan contributed from Hong Kong

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PHOTO: Workers of a foreign exchange dealing company monitor electric screens, under the U.S. dollar rate against the Japanese yen, top, and Nikkei stock index, bottom,  in Tokyo, Friday, Sept.19, 2014. Japanese stocks rallied as the yen extended losses against the dollar while the pound jumped as investors bet that Scottish voters would reject independence based on early results from the referendum. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
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