* Cisco's stock flies after earnings, outlook
* U.S. jobless claims hit six-month high
* Wal-Mart falls after earnings miss
* Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 up 0.01 pct; Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, May 16 U.S. stocks advanced modestly
on Thursday as Cisco led gains in blue chips and technology
stocks following strong earnings, offsetting concerns about
softer-than-expected data on the manufacturing sector and labor
Cisco Systems Inc shares surged 12.5 percent to
$23.86, lifting the Dow and the Nasdaq after the network
equipment maker posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit
and said current-quarter revenue could increase.
Apple Inc, up 1.9 percent at $437.19, and
Hewlett-Packard, up 1.6 percent at $21.31, also ranked
among the day's big tech gainers, along with International
Business Machines, up 1.3 percent at $205.87.
Wall Street started off Thursday's session slightly weaker
after data showed the biggest jump in weekly initial jobless
claims since November.
Other data showed housing starts slid in April, falling
sharply below analysts' expectations, while business activity in
the U.S. mid-Atlantic region contracted in May, according to
data from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
But market participants were more optimistic about the
sustainability of the rally that has driven the S&P 500 up more
than 16 percent for the year.
"The very latest evidence on a rise in initial claims is
unlikely to be seen as a sign of changing seas for the labor
market in the long run, and at the end of the day, is a single
data point," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at
Miller Tabak & Co in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 12.16
points, or 0.08 percent, to 15,287.85. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index inched up just 0.10 of a point, or 0.01 percent,
to 1,658.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 9.35
points, or 0.27 percent, to 3,480.96.
Shares of Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell 2.2 percent to
$78.14 and weighed on the Dow after the world's largest retailer
posted a quarterly profit that missed Wall Street's
expectations, with sales down 1.4 percent at U.S. stores open at
least a year.
Tesla Motors Inc gained 5.8 percent to $89.75 after
the electric carmaker said it aims to raise $830 million through
a stock-and-debt offering that will be used to repay its U.S.
Department of Energy loans with interest. The stock has surged
more than 50 percent since the company reported earnings last
Class B shares of Berkshire Hathaway fell 0.7
percent to $111.98 after Standard & Poor's downgraded the
company's counterparty rating to "AA" from "AA+" with a negative
outlook, citing the company's reliance on its insurance
operations for dividend income.
In other data, the U.S. Consumer Price Index posted the
biggest decline since December 2008, indicating inflation
pressure remains tame and giving the U.S. Federal Reserve
latitude to maintain its current monetary policy.