Stocks were little changed on Thursday as a mixed set of economic data and a weak outlook from Wal-Mart pointed to the fragility of the recovery.
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's regional economic survey grew more than expected in February as new orders surged, while a separate gauge of the U.S. economy's prospects rose for the 10th month to a record high in January.
I think the big news in the Philly Fed is beneath the headline -- the new orders index rose by a huge amount. The report is coincident with what we saw in the New York index (Empire State Manufacturing Survey), that manufacturing seems to have continued to expand into the start of the year, said Dan Greenhaus, Market Analyst at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 12.02 points, or 0.12 percent, at 10,321.26. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 0.63 points, or 0.06 percent, at 1,100.14. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 0.16 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,226.45.
Wall Street had a weak start of the day after the Labor Department data showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly and producer prices index gained by the largest advance since October 2008.
Disappointing news also came from Wal-Mart Stores Inc
But crude oil prices jumped nearly 1 percent to above $78.00 a barrel, giving a boost to energy stocks. Materials stocks were also up, sending S&P Materials index <.GSPM> 0.8 percent higher.
(Additional reporting by Ellis Mnyandu)
(Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)