* BOJ action and U.S. officials' remarks support market
* Jobless claims disappoint, following private sector report
* Best Buy rallies on plan to sell discounted iPads
* Indexes: Dow up 0.2 pct, S&P up 0.3 pct, Nasdaq off 0.1
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, April 4 Wall Street edged higher
Thursday as robust action by the Bank of Japan and supportive
remarks by U.S. officials indicated that equity markets would
continue to be propped up, but gains were capped by data showing
U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly rose.
The Bank of Japan shocked markets with a radical overhaul of
its monetary policy, adopting a new balance sheet target and
pledging to double its government bond holdings in two years.
Following the decision, Japanese shares soared 2.2
percent while the iShares MSCI Japan Index ETF jumped
3.9 percent to $10.88. U.S. shares of Toyota Motor rose
4.5 percent to $105.40.
WisdomTree Japan ETF jumped 7.2 percent to $43.77.
Still, investors were disappointed by an unexpected jump in
U.S. weekly jobless claims to a four-month high, the latest in a
series of data points to disappoint, raising questions about
growth and the labor market's recovery.
"I think the market is showing nervousness after the weak
readings this week on the ISM manufacturing, ISM services, the
ADP and now the jobless claims. There is a fear of this being
the start of a 'spring swoon'," said Jack DeGan, chief
investment officer of Harbor Advisory.
"I don't think that is the case, but until we get a couple
of real inputs that the economy is improving, the rally is
likely to stall considering how far we've come this year."
Wall Street has advanced more than 9 percent this year,
partially fueled by a supportive environment from central banks
around the world, a trend investors expect to continue.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 33.29 points,
or 0.23 percent, at 14,583.64. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 4.68 points, or 0.30 percent, at 1,558.37. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.92 points, or 0.12
percent, at 3,214.68.
The benchmark S&P index is about 1.4 percent away from a
record intraday peak of 1,576.09.
Market declines have been used as buying opportunities of
late, but many investors are calling for a more pronounced
pullback. Wednesday's decline was the biggest daily drop for the
S&P since February.
First-quarter earnings growth forecasts have been lowered
since the start of the year, with S&P 500 company earnings
expected to have risen 1.6 percent from a year ago, according to
Thomson Reuters data. A Jan. 1 forecast put earnings growth at
Data showed jobless claims jumped to 385,000 in the latest
week, confounding expectations that claims would drop by 7,000
to 350,000. On Wednesday, a read on private sector employment
also disappointed, spurring concerns about Friday's jobs report,
which is expected to show that 200,000 jobs were added in March,
down from the previous month.
"If Friday's report is better than expected, then the
sentiment could turn back into positive territory, but if it is
confirmation that things are softening, that could be the
beginning of a pullback," said Art Hogan, managing director of
Lazard Capital Markets in New York.
On Wednesday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said the
Fed had room to keep buying bonds to support the U.S. economic
recovery. Earlier Thursday, Dennis Lockhart, president of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, suggested the Fed's program
would continue for at least a few more months.
Retailer Best Buy Co Inc was the S&P's top
percentage gainer, rising 10 percent to $23.80, after saying it
would offer a 30 percent discount on its current stock of Apple
iPad 3 tablets in the United States.
Private equity firms TPG Capital and Madison Dearborn
Partners are the two finalists bidding for National Financial
Partners, a New York-based wealth management company
with a market value of nearly $900 million, people familiar with
the matter said.
Shares of National rose 4 percent to $23.14.