* U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fall; jobless claims rise
* U.S. stocks rise; Nasdaq up for a sixth session
* European stocks dip
* Italy's Letta announces resignation after market's close
* Bond prices gain
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 13 World stock markets edged
higher on Thursday as soft U.S. economic data was blamed on bad
weather, while the dollar fell to a two-week low against the
U.S. stocks rose, with big gains in technology shares giving
the Nasdaq a sixth straight session of gains, its best advance
since December 2011.
Unseasonably cold and snowy weather hurt U.S. retail sales,
considered a gauge of consumer spending. Sales fell unexpectedly
in January, while other data showed more Americans filed for
jobless benefits last week.
Large parts of the United States have been gripped by
freezing temperatures and snow storms, which caused investors to
largely discount both the day's and other recent weak data that
suggested the economy started the year on weaker footing.
"We understand the impact the weather is having, and we
expect the economy is going to perk up when we get some more
seasonal weather in the second quarter," said Phil Orlando,
chief equity strategist at Federated Investors in New York.
On Thursday, the eastern United States was in the grip of
another deadly winter storm that began late Wednesday. More than
700,000 people were without power.
"The culprit here is the weather, unequivocally," said
Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Services
Inc, in Troy, Michigan.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 63.65 points or
0.40 percent, to end at 16,027.59. The S&P 500 gained
10.57 points or 0.58 percent, to 1,829.83 while the Nasdaq
Composite added 39.384 points or 0.94 percent, to
The Nasdaq gained about 5.7 percent over the past six
sessions, its best six-day string of gains since December 2011.
A disappointing outlook from Cisco Systems Inc late
Wednesday curbed the Dow's gain. Cisco shares fell 2.5
percent to $22.27.
Comcast Corp said it would buy Time Warner Cable
Inc for $45.2 billion in an all-stock deal that combines
the two largest U.S. cable operators.
Time Warner Cable shares rose 7 percent to $144.81 while
Comcast shed 4.1 percent to $52.97. Shares of Charter
Communications Inc, which had also pursued Time Warner
Cable, fell 6.3 percent to $128.91.
The broad MSCI All-Country World Index was
up 0.2 percent, while MSCI's index of emerging market stocks was
down 0.8 percent.
In Europe, shares dipped as losses in Italy weighed on the
market because of political uncertainty there that raised
worries about efforts to turn around Italy's sputtering economy.
However, after the market's close, Italian Prime Minister Enrico
Letta said he would tender his resignation on Friday, opening
the way for center-left leader Matteo Renzi to take the helm.
European stocks snapped a week-long winning streak, with the
pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index ending down 0.1
Shares of Swiss food group Nestle fell 1.5 percent
after the company said it may undershoot its long-term growth
targets again this year.
In the foreign exchange market, the dollar fell to a
two-week low against the euro and slid against other major
currencies, after the day's U.S. economic data. U.S. bond prices
rose following two days of losses.
The euro rallied against the dollar, to $1.3694, its
strongest level since Jan. 27, before trimming gains to trade
0.6 percent higher for the day, at $1.3680.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose
8/32 in price to yield 2.73 percent. Ten-year yields earlier hit
a session low of 2.72 percent following the U.S. 30-year bond
GOLD TOPS $1,300; OIL PRICES DIP
Gold rose above $1,300 an ounce for the first time in over
three months, gaining almost 1 percent after U.S. retail sales
data dragged on the dollar and increased bullion's appeal as a
Spot gold rose to $1,302.40, its highest since Nov.
8. It was last up 0.9 percent at $1,301.79 an ounce.
Oil prices ended the session lower, though Brent's losses
were limited by a report from the International Energy Agency
that developed world inventories fell 1.5 million barrels per
day in the last three months of 2013, for the steepest quarterly
decline since 1999.
Brent crude oil futures fell 6 cents to settle at
$108.73 a barrel while U.S. crude oil dipped 2 cents to
settle at $100.35.