Stocks edged higher on Thursday as data pointing to gains in the manufacturing sector offset Wal-Mart Stores Inc's
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank's mid-Atlantic factory survey showed more-than-expected growth in February as new orders surged, while the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators rose for the 10th month to a record high in January.
Shares of natural resources companies, including miners, were among the biggest gainers, followed by technology companies and major manufacturers. Boeing Co
The big news is that we've noticed that manufacturing numbers do show things continue to improve, much like most of the economic data, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical analyst at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati, Ohio.
But Wal-Mart put a lid on gains as its stock slid 1.3 percent to $53.35, making it the biggest drag on the Dow. The world's largest retailer forecast results for the current quarter that could miss Wall Street's estimates.
Wal-Mart is one name that didn't have good earnings, but overall the bigger picture, at least in our view, is that this earnings season has been impressive, relative to expectations.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 19.80 points, or 0.19 percent, to 10,329.04. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 1.28 points, or 0.12 percent, to 1,100.79. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 2.87 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,229.16.
The S&P 500's intraday hold above the 1,100 level marked a significant technical milestone as the market continues to recover from the sell-off that recently took the benchmark index down as much as 8 percent from a 15-month closing peak on January 19.
On Nasdaq, shares of online travel agency Priceline.com Inc
The upbeat manufacturing data followed a Labor Department report that showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly in the latest week, while another report showed January producer prices notched their largest advance since October 2008.
The S&P 500 is now off 4.4 percent from its January 19 peak, and has gained 62.6 percent since its March 2009 bottom.
(Editing by Kenneth Barry)