U.S. stocks barely budged on Thursday after a mixed bag of economic data kept confidence in the economic recovery on shaky ground, but LinkedIn's shares surged in their Wall Street debut.

Economic data painted a cloudy picture after weekly jobless claims suggested the labor market was on track for recovery, but factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region grew much more slowly than expected in May. In addition, sales of previously owned U.S. homes fell in April in a sign the housing market is still struggling.

We continue to see the rate of growth slow. That has been the prevailing trend for the last three or four weeks and the Philly Fed is adding to that pressure, said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald & Co in San Francisco.

With earnings season mostly behind us, it's been difficult to find or identify a catalyst that will take you to the next level, not without at least consolidating or absorbing some of the information and getting through some time.

In their public trading debut, shares of LinkedIn Corp more than doubled their IPO price in a jump reminiscent of the heyday of investors' love affair with Internet stocks. The stock rocketed to an intraday high of $121.97 -- or as much as 171 percent above its initial offering price of $45.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 20,43 points, or 0.16 percent, to 12,586.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> inched up 0.46 of a point, or 0.03 percent, to 1,341.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 2.93 points, or 0.10 percent, to 2,817.93.

Semiconductor shares fell after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on Intel Corp to sell from neutral, citing slowing processor shipments, rising competition and record capital expenditure levels this year. The firm also lowered its rating on Applied Materials as part of a wider downgrade on the semiconductor equipment sector.

Intel shares lost 1.4 percent to $23.55 and Applied Materials dropped 1.7 percent to $14.26. The PHLX semiconductor index <.SOX> declined 1 percent.

Stocks, bonds, gold and the euro are expected to fall in the three months after the end of the Fed's second massive bond-buying operation, also known as quantitative easing, or QE2, a Reuters poll of 64 analysts and fund managers found on Thursday.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)