* Jobless claims fall, signaling labor market improvement
* Consumer sentiment, regional manufacturing better than
* 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 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.