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U.S. Stocks Close Mixed, as Jobless Claims Rise, Oil Prices Stabilize

A 0.7% increase in retail sales for August was unable to push the market higher even though analysts had been expecting a decline.

U.S. stocks closed mixed Thursday, despite an unexpected gain in retail sales, as jobless claims rose and oil prices steadied after Wednesday's increase. 

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 fell 0.16%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.18%, and the Nasdaq Composite firmed 0.13%. The 10-year Treasury note yielded 1.33%, up 3 basis points. 

Retail sales rose 0.7% in August from July, creaming economists' forecast of a 0.8% decline and gaining 15.1% from COVID-hit August 2020.

"The bottom line here is that this report suggests Delta fears aren’t stopping people spending some of their abundant cash resources on goods, even as they retreat from services," said Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics. 

"These data will trigger a wave of upgrades to forecasts for Q3 consumption and GDP growth, though a sharp slowdown from Q2’s stimulus-fueled pace is a done deal."

Meanwhile, jobless claims rose by 20,000 to 332,000 for the week ended Sept. 11.

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Asia shares fell for a fourth consecutive session. They suffered from concerns over slowing growth in China's economy and Beijing's broadening crackdown on corporate profitability. The MSCI Asia Pacific index dipped 0.7%

European shares rose, led by travel stocks. Rising vaccination rates and lower energy prices during the European day helped. The Stoxx 600 index climbed 0.49%

Electronic Arts  (EA) - Get Electronic Arts Inc. Report shed 0.8%, even after the videogame maker said the delay of its flagship 'Battlefield 2042' won't dent its full year sales forecast.

Cisco Systems  (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report decreased 0.4% after the network equipment maker outlined plans to generate a greater portion of its revenues from software and subscription sales.

Beyond Meat  (BYND) - Get Beyond Meat, Inc. Report slumped 2% to a four-month low, as analysts at Piper Sandler cut their rating on the plant-based food maker to underweight from neutral. They slashed their price target by $25 to $120 per share.

Oil prices were little changed, as refiners move slowly back to full capacity following damage and evacuations linked to Hurricanes Nicholas and Ida. October WTI crude futures were barely changed at $72.60 cents.