What is the primary purpose of a cursor?

I am new to MS Sql and trying to figure out cursors.  Please feel free to elaborate on my question in order to provide a clear understanding.
rhservanAsked:
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Guy Hengel [angelIII / a3]Connect With a Mentor Billing EngineerCommented:
usually, people use cursors when they (think they) cannot do it in a single SQL statement.
there are indeed situations where you need to handle 1 row at a time (for example, sending emails based on a query)
however, still a non-cursor solution is then possible and almost always better performîng ...
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PortletPaulfreelancerCommented:
Microsoft SQL Server statements produce a complete result set, but there are times when the results are best processed one row at a time. Opening a cursor on a result set allows processing the result set one row at a time. You can assign a cursor to a variable or parameter with a cursor data type.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms181441(v=sql.100).aspx

Use of cursors is normally associated with "procedural code" (e.g. allows branching)
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