Stocks edged higher on Thursday, putting the benchmark S&P 500 index on track for its sixth advance in the last seven sessions as a round of economic data pointed to a slowly improving domestic economy.

The S&P 500 snapped a five-day winning streak on Wednesday after advancing nearly 4 percent during the run, as investors found little reason to extend a rally that took the benchmark index to four-year highs.

Gains on Thursday were muted as the S&P approached the 1,400 level, which represents a technical resistance point the index needs to hurdle before additional gains could be triggered.

If you looked at all the economic news today it actually came in better than expected, but the market is exhausted - it went all the way up to close to 1,400 and stalled, said Ken Polcari, managing director at ICAP Equities in New York.

Labor Department data showed new claims for unemployment benefits fell back to a four-year low last week, and producer prices, excluding food and energy, were contained.

Manufacturing data in New York and the mid-Atlantic region also improved, according to regional Federal Reserve surveys.

It is continued expansion in economic growth across the board, said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research in Cincinnati.

The claims obviously continue to improve, and that is the thing we are most encouraged by. The jobs continue to slowly improve, and this is clearly a step in the right direction, Detrick said. This is continued strength that we've seen the last eight weeks or so - economic growth grows higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 14.38 points, or 0.11 percent, to 13,208.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 3.34 points, or 0.24 percent, to 1,397.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 9.60 points, or 0.32 percent, to 3,050.33.

Semiconductors moved higher, led by Advanced Micro Devices Inc , which jumped 5.9 percent to $8.22 after Jefferies upgraded the stock to a buy rating. The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index <.SOX> gained 1.9 percent.

Ross Stores Inc reported a higher profit for the holiday quarter as shoppers sought out popular clothing brands at discount prices, and the off-price chain forecast respectable sales and profit gains for this fiscal year. Shares dropped 2.7 percent to $55.05. The Morgan Stanley retail index <.MVR> lost 0.4 percent.

Three initial public offerings made their debuts on Thursday: cloud computing-based software company Demandware Inc , analog chipmaker M/A-Com Technology Solutions Holdings and Allison Transmission Holdings .

Demandware surged 53.1 percent to $24.50, M/A-Com advanced 5.2 percent to $19.99 and Allison Transmission was flat at $23.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)