U.S. stocks edged up on Thursday as an upbeat profit forecast from United Parcel Service lifted transportation shares, but concerns about a rise in weekly jobless claims limited gains.
Google Inc , due to report after the close, helped boost the Nasdaq. Google added 0.7 percent at $593.16. Its climb follows upbeat results from Intel Corp earlier this week. Intel's stock was up 3.2 percent at $24.27.
S&P 500 companies' quarterly earnings now forecast to rise 38.2 percent from a year ago, slightly better than the 36.6 percent increase forecast on April 1, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Worries that debt-plagued Greece was ready to use an emergency bailout package weighed on sentiment earlier in the day, but the S&P 500 remained well above the key 1,200 mark and the Dow above 11,000. The recent break above those levels was the first time since September 2008.
I think it's a good UPS number. It shows the economy is doing better, said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments LLC, in Lisle, Illinois. But he said the news was offset by some of the day's economic data, including the jobless claims.
Economic bellwether UPS climbed 6.3 percent to $69.59 after the package delivery company said first-quarter earnings would be much higher than expected, and raised its full-year outlook.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 16.32 points, or 0.15 percent, at 11,139.43. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.31 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,212.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 10.57 points, or 0.42 percent, at 2,515.43.
Earlier, the S&P 500 touched an intraday high at 1,213.92, its highest in 19 months. The Dow also reached a 19-month intraday high at 11,144.95 earlier in the session.
The next key resistance level is 1,214 on the S&P 500, just shy of the 61.8 Fibonnaci retracement of October 2007 to March 2009.
New U.S. jobless claims soared unexpectedly last week due to applications delayed by the Easter holiday.
Among consumer-related stocks, retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell 0.8 percent to $54.21, and ranked among the top drags on the Dow Jones industrial average.
Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Transportation Average <.DJT> rose 2.2 percent, after earlier hitting a fresh 52-week high at 4,758.19. Shares of UPS rival FedEx Corp shot up 2.6 percent to $96.44. Analysts use the transportation average to predict strength or weakness in the U.S. economy and the stock market.
Analysts have been more optimistic about the U.S. stock market's performance for the year. On Thursday, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch raised its year-end target for the S&P 500 to 1,300 from 1,275.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Jan Paschal)