U.S stocks picked up on Thursday following the release of mixed economic data, with the Nasdaq Composite leading the way up after Symantec Corp.'s strong earnings were announced.

The S&P 500 added 8.64 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,394.23 at 11:53 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 68.23, or 0.5 percent, to 12,888.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index increased 42.58, or 1.8 percent, to 2,455.38.

Blue-chip declines were led by Exxon Mobil, down 4.1 percent after it reported first-quarter profit soared 17 percent higher but still fell short of its all-time record set last year. Chevron also took a hit on the Exxon numbers, falling 1.8 percent.

Exxon Mobil's first quarter net income rose to $10.9 billion, or $2.03 a share, from $9.28 billion, or $1.62, a year earlier. Still, the first quarter was 11 cents short analyst estimates at Thomson Financial.

But it was the Nasdaq Composite that posted the biggest gains, recently advancing 2 percent. Tech stocks led the way, with names like Symantec and Research in Motion posting solid gains.

Comcast, the largest U.S. cable-television company, said first-quarter sales rose 14 percent, more than analysts estimated, on new Internet- access subscribers. Profit fell 13 percent from a year earlier, when results were pushed higher by a one-time gain. Shares rallied $1.38, or 6.7 percent, to $21.93.

Shares of Symantec gained more nearly 12 percent after the security software company posted a sharp rise in fiscal fourth-quarter profit, citing stronger businesses and consumers subscription renewals and bought more programs to protect information.


Figures released showed that income gains were eroded by inflation in March, with consumer prices and incomes both rising 0.3 percent.

In a separate report from the Labor Department, weekly jobless claims soared 35,000 to 380,000, ahead of Friday's closely watched nonfarm payrolls figures for April.

In addition, the Commerce Department reported a 1.1 percent drop in construction spending in March.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management reporting manufacturing activity contracting in April for a third consecutive month.