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.
Travelers Cos Inc
But McDonald's Corp
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
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)