US stocks struggled to rise as investors digested mixed economic reports and earnings from retailers.
The weekly jobless claims rose more than expected, above the 300,000 level.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.2% or 31 points to 18,193, pulling back from the record close of Wednesday. The S&P 500 dropped 0.3% or six points to 2,108.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.2% or seven points to 4,974, less than 2% away from the record close of 5,048.62.
Trading activity was modest as the Q4 earnings season drew to a close and fears over the Greece bailout continued to reduce.
Tom Carter, managing director at JonesTrading said that the absence of market-moving headlines is prompting certain investors to curtail winning bets. He said, “They look at their portfolio and there are stocks that have ripped, that have done nicely. That leads to them to think, ‘I’m going to take some money off the table and I’m going to redeploy it.’”
Market Watch quoted Albert Edwards, chief global strategist at Societe Generale as having written, “With equity markets galore hitting record highs clearly I must be missing something big! We are at that stage in the cycle where I begin to doubt my own sanity. I’ve been here before though and I know full well how this story ends and it doesn’t involve me being detained in a mental health establishment.”
A sharper drop than expected has been recorded in the inflation report. Jeff Kravetz, regional investment strategist at US Bank Wealth Management said, “Inflation moved lower but it is still in the zone of positive low inflation, which is good for stocks. Another important factor is the stronger dollar, which will bring more demand from international investors. Price appreciation in the stock market will be sustainable because of positive economic backdrop.”
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