US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher on data, techs show strength

Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:41am EST

* Jobless claims fall, signaling labor market improvement

* Consumer sentiment, regional manufacturing better than expected

* HP shares rally on optimism about revenue

* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.5 pct

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, Nov 27 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Wednesday as a round of positive data boosted optimism about the pace of global growth and Hewlett-Packard rallied after announcing its results.

Weekly jobless claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell in the latest week, a sign of steady improvement in the labor market. Analysts were expecting a rise in claims.

Separately, the November Chicago Purchasing Managers Index and the final November Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan gauge of consumer sentiment also came in above expectations, indicating that conditions continue to improve.

"The data was terrific and is in line with an economy where consumers should do well," said Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Rockwell Securities in New York. "Recently consumer sentiment hasn't lined up with how positive the market has been, so hopefully this means everyone is becoming more positive."

Tech shares were the strongest of the day, rising 0.8 percent a day after Hewlett-Packard Co beat revenue forecasts, with sales growth in its server and networking businesses inspiring optimism about the company's turnaround plan. The stock jumped 9.3 percent to $27.41.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 23.53 points, or 0.15 percent, at 16,096.33. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 4.31 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,807.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 18.00 points, or 0.45 percent, at 4,035.75.

Trading was light, with many traders out for the Thanksgiving holiday. Markets will close on Thursday and will finish early at 1 p.m. (1800 GMT) on Friday.

Wall Street has soared this year, largely on expectations for continued stimulus from the Federal Reserve. Both the Dow and S&P 500 have risen more than 20 percent in 2013, hitting a series of all-time highs, while the Nasdaq closed above 4,000 for the first time since 2000 on Tuesday.

While the Fed's stimulus program is expected to put a floor under equity prices for as long as it continues, recent volatility has come on uncertainty over when the program will end. The central bank has said it would begin to slow its stimulus measures when the unemployment rate and inflation meet its targets, putting a heightened focus on economic data.

The holiday shopping season unofficially begins on Friday, and already there has been unprecedented price-cutting from the discount chain Wal-Mart Stores Inc, earlier-than-usual deals from online company Amazon.com Inc and price-match promises from Best Buy Co Inc, Target Corp . The S&P retail index rose 0.4 percent.

On the downside, energy shares fell 0.4 percent as crude oil futures dropped 1.6 percent to $92.67 because of a higher-than-expected increase in inventories. Newfield Exploration dropped 3.3 percent to $28.50 while Noble Energy was off 2.3 percent at $71.51.

Tilly's Inc slumped 22.5 percent to $12.30 in premarket trading after the teen apparel retailer forecast fourth-quarter profits below expectations.

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