Stocks Finish With Mild Gains

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished slightly higher Thursday as investors balanced mediocre jobless claims and durable goods data against mostly upbeat earnings reports.

Wall Street eagerly awaited Apple's ( AAPL) quarterly results throughout the session. The stock, which fell 1.1% ahead of the numbers, was halted after the iPhone maker reported a lighter than anticipated profit for its fiscal fourth quarter but topped revenue expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added more than 26 points, or 0.20%, to close at 13,104. The blue-chip index had fallen in the previous two sessions as well as in four of the past six trading days. The Dow remains up 7.25% so far this year, but has now pulled back more than 500 points from its high for the year.

Breadth within Dow was slightly positive, with winners ahead of losers, 18 to 11 and General Electric ( GE) finishing flat. The top percentage gainers were Procter & Gamble ( PG), Chevron ( CVX), Pfizer ( PFE) and Intel ( INTC).

Blue-chip decliners included Boeing ( BA), Home Depot ( HD) and Travelers ( TRV).

The S&P 500 gained a little more than 4 points, or 0.30%, to finish at1413, while the Nasdaq also added more than 4 points, or 0.15%, at 2986.

The weakest sectors in the broad market were capital goods, conglomerates, services and technology. Consumer non-cyclicals, consumer cyclicals, energy and basic materials were in the green.

Advancers were outpacing losers by a 1.5-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and a 1.4-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. Volume totaled 3.50 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.92 billion on the Nasdaq.

Thursday's economic data did the equities market few favors. The Labor Department initial jobless claims in the week ended Oct. 20 came in at 369,000, a decrease of 23,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 392,000.

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