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Stocks Close Mixed as Economic Data Offset Higher Jobless Claims

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. markets closed mixed Thursday as a raft of positive economic data lifted sentiment after weekly jobless claims rose. The International Monetary Fund warned political risk in Ukraine may see a bigger bailout than planned, after signing off on its $17 billion package for the nation.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average settled down 0.13% to 16,558.87, while the S&P 500 was effectively flat at 1,883.68. The Nasdaq gained 0.31% to 4,127.45.

  • Jobless claims for the week of April 26 increased 14,000 to 344,000 vs. the average economist's estimate of 320,000. The four-week moving average ticked up by 3,000.
  • March personal income rose 0.5% vs. the expected 0.4%. Consumer spending jumped by the most in almost five years in March. Household purchases -- accounting for about 70% of the U.S. economy -- rose 0.9% or the most since August 2009.
  • Economic data was broadly in line with expectations. The Markit PMI manufacturing flash index for April was line with consensus at 55.4, slightly below the 55.5 result from March. April's ISM Manufacturing Index rose to 54.9 from 53.7 in the prior month. Construction spending rose 0.2% in March, after falling 0.2% in February.
  • At a speech for community banks on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen said small U.S. banks had started lending to customers at a faster pace after years of tightening credit,a good sign for economic growth.
  • Ford (F - Get Report) lost 1.5% after it said April U.S. sales fell 1% as small-car sales stalled. The automaker also grabbed headlines when it named Chief Operating Officer Mark Fields as its new CEO at a news conference Thursday morning.
  • General Motors (GM) inched higher by 1.2% after it said sales for April rose 6.9%, as several recalls had little impact.
  • Avon (AVP) was among the top losers in the S&P, down 10.2% after its earnings fell well short of estimates.
  • T-Mobile (TMUS) popped 8.1% after it said it added 1.3 million wireless contract subscribers, its best-ever quarterly gain.
  • Exxon (XOM - Get Report) shed 0.98% after reporting first-quarter earnings of $2.10 a share vs. the average analyst estimate of $1.88 a share.
  • MasterCard (MA) added 0.91% after posting first-quarter EPS of 73 cents vs. expectations of 72 cents.
  • Sprint (S) added 2.7% as it makes funding arrangements for a bid for T-Mobile.
  • Yelp (YELP) rose 9.8% after raising its 2014 revenue forecast.
  • Stocks closed higher Wednesday afternoon after the Federal Reserve pledged to hold rates for a considerable time after it ends its economic stimulus program, offsetting weaker-than-expected economic growth data. The Dow settled at a record high for the first time this year. The markets have been getting a boost from improved first-quarter earnings growth expectations. From a technical perspective, the S&P 500 index has regained its footing after holding above the 1,850 level, according to Sam Stovall, S&P Capital IQ managing director of U.S. equity strategy. "Like an over-tired toddler resisting a nap, the S&P 500 continues to fight rather than surrender to the exhaustive callings of an overdue correction," Stovall said in a note. He said the major indices have also been encouraged by a rebound in S&P 500 first-quarter EPS growth expectations, now at 1.7% vs. the earlier estimate of a 1.2% decline.
  • The FTSE 100 in the U.K. rose 0.43% as the majority of European markets were closed for the May Day holiday. The Hang Seng closed 1.42% lower and the Nikkei gained 1.27%.

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

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