Stocks rose on Thursday, but were well off session highs, as investors sought to reconcile upbeat corporate profits and reassuring job market data with anxiety about Chrysler LLC's bankruptcy filing.
The automaker filed for bankruptcy protection after talks to restructure its debt with lenders broke down, signaling the Obama administration may take a hard stance with holdout General Motors Corp
Uneasiness about Chrysler's bankruptcy nearly wiped out gains of more than 1 percent in the Dow industrials and the S&P 500.
We've got some fairly heavy-handed government intervention here, and the market is concerned about that, said Stephen Massoca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.
It's a little bit of an unfortunate reaction from the administration and the market is reacting accordingly.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 24.13 points, or 0.29 percent, to 8,209.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 3.38 points, or 0.39 percent, to 877.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> climbed 15.92 points, or 0.93 percent, to 1,727.86.
Shares of GM were up 7.2 percent to $1.94, while Ford Motor Co
The S&P 500 is up more than 29 percent from the bear-market low set in March, and is on track for its best month in at least nine years. Stocks have been boosted in part by optimism over the state of the banking sector and hopes the recession is easing.
The broad index received substantial support from profit reports from companies like Dow Chemical Co
Shares of big-cap technology companies bolstered the Nasdaq, along with green module manufacturer First Solar Inc
Of the 280 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings to date, 65 percent topped analysts' estimates, according to data compiled by Thomson Reuters.
However, many of the analysts' estimates had been reduced to reflect the current economic slump.
The latest government data showed the number of workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, even as the number of people staying on those benefits rose to a fresh record high.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; additional reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)