NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were hovering around the flatline as weak industrial data suggested a bounceback from the dismal first quarter could be more gradual than hoped for. 

The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average were flat, and the Nasdaq slid 0.04%.

Stocks rallied back to record levels on Thursday, helped by continued weakness in the U.S. dollar and as Treasury yields stabilized. The S&P 500 closed 3 points above a previous record, while the Dow hovered within 40 points of its high.

Industrial production remained weak in April, down 0.3%, notching its fifth straight decline. Economists had expected a flat reading after the measure fell 0.6% in March.

"Industrial production in April was dragged down by a drop back in utilities output, as the earlier weather-related distortion was unwound, and a sharp decline in oil and gas drilling," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. 

Consumer sentiment in May fell to a preliminary reading of 88.6, a seven-month low, according to the University of Michigan's consumer survey. Economists had expected a May level of 94.5 after a final reading of 95.9 in April. 

The Empire State manufacturing index moved into positive territory in May, but not by enough to satisfy expectations. Manufacturing conditions in New York rose to 3.1 from a negative reading of 1.2 in April, though the reading came in below estimates of 5.5. 

"This was a constructive report as the rise back in expansionary territory is an important indication that the backsliding in activity may have ended," said TD Securities' Millan Mulraine in a note. "Nevertheless, with the index still languishing close to the zero mark, it suggests that growth momentum in the manufacturing sector has rebounded only marginally, which is a far cry from the spectacular bounce in activity seen last year."

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