U.S. stocks rose on Thursday in a holiday-shortened week on earnings and outlooks, but the gains were tempered on signs of regional economic weakness.

Apple Inc climbed 2.6 percent to $351.20 after its results beat Wall Street's expectations as iPhone and Mac computer sales soared while iPad supplies could not keep up with global demand.

Travelers Cos Inc provided the top boost to the Dow after reporting a 30 percent rise in quarterly profit as the large property insurer recorded higher investment income. Shares rose 3.3 percent to $61.07.

But McDonald's Corp was off 2.1 percent to $76.78, after the hamburger chain warned of accelerating food inflation.

Stocks pared gains after the Philadelphia Federal Reserve said the pace of factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region fell far more than expected in April after expanding at its fastest pace in 27 years in March.

The benchmark S&P 500 index has met strong resistance at various times in April as it approached 1,344, which it previously hit in February. That was its highest since June 2008.

The Philly Fed contributed to the (drop) as much as anything, said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners in New York.

1,344 is a real level. This has definitely been a Pollyannish market -- it is going to take a lot of good news and not just happy feet to bust through 1,344.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 19.72 points, or 0.16 percent, to 12,473.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 4.47 points, or 0.34 percent, to 1,334.83. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> gained 9.80 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,812.31.

General Electric Co lost 2.3 percent to $19.93 even after the largest U.S. conglomerate reported an 80 percent surge in first-quarter profit and raised its quarterly dividend.

Morgan Stanley, the second-largest U.S. investment bank, rose 3.3 percent to $26.89 after reporting its first-quarter results.

In other economic data, a government report showed new U.S. unemployment benefits claims held above the key 400,000 level while an index of future U.S. economic health rose for a ninth straight month in March.

Volume is expected to remain light on Thursday before a three-day weekend. U.S. markets are closed on Friday in observance of Good Friday.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Kenneth Barry)