Stocks were little changed on Thursday as a fresh dose of data pointing to more labor market weakness offset a search for beaten-down shares and optimism spurred by Nestle's
A government report showed that the number of U.S. workers continuing to claim jobless benefits jumped to a record in the first week of February.
That was followed by a report showing factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region fell sharply in February. The two reports suggested the recession was worsening and marked a major hurdle for a market within striking distance of violating three-month lows.
Even so, consumer products maker Procter & Gamble
We're going to need a whole lot of better news before we see some sustainability, said Cummins Catherwood, managing director at Boenning and Scattergood in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, adding: My personal feeling, if the Dow low gets violated, (is) that it's when I would start buying.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> shed 1.99 points, or 0.03 percent, to 7,553.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 2.07 points, or 0.26 percent, to 790.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> declined 2.22 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,465.75.
A disappointing outlook from Hewlett-Packard Co
HP was off 7.5 percent at $31.51 on the New York Stock Exchange, while on Nasdaq Apple
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by James Dalgleish)