* Cisco falls after results, outlook
* Comcast to buy Time Warner
* Whole Foods drops after cutting forecast
* Initial claims rise, retail sales fall
* Indexes up: Dow 0.15 pct, S&P 0.22 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, Feb 13 U.S. stocks advanced on
Thursday, erasing earlier declines as investors discounted
weaker-than-expected data on consumer spending and the labor
market, but a disappointing outlook by Cisco Systems kept gains
in check on each of the major indexes.
Cisco fell 4.2 percent to $21.90 as one of the
biggest drags on all three major U.S. indexes after the
network-gear maker forecast a drop of 6 to 8 percent in revenue
in the current quarter.
Indexes managed to recover from earlier weakness as
investors looked past soft data on the consumer and labor market
due to harsh weather conditions. Initial claims for state
unemployment benefits rose last week and retail sales fell in
January, while December retail sales were also revised lower.
"I don't think we're going to see clean data until probably
April, since March is still expected to have bad weather, though
not as severe as the winter months," said Michael O'Rourke,
chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich,
Connecticut. "Right now markets are still giving the economy the
benefit of the doubt."
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 6.7 percent to $144.35 while
Comcast shed 3.9 percent to $53.10. Shares of Charter
Communications Inc, which had also pursued Time Warner
Cable, fell 5.7 percent to $129.74.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 23.77 points or
0.15 percent, to 15,987.71, the S&P 500 gained 3.93
points or 0.22 percent, to 1,823.19 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 16.795 points or 0.4 percent, to 4,218.083.
A deadly winter storm moved north along the East Coast of
the United States on Thursday, bringing heavy snow, sleet and
rain across the Washington, D.C., and New York areas, grounding
flights and shutting government offices.
A scheduled hearing with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen
before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Thursday was
postponed due to the snowstorm. Yellen's testimony Tuesday
helped fuel strong gains on Wall Street.
Whole Foods Market Inc lost 7.4 percent to $51.37
after the largest U.S. organic and natural food retailer stunned
investors on Wednesday by cutting its 2014 sales forecast for
the second time in three months.
Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co surged 10.5 percent to
$26.71 after one of the world's largest tire companies posted a
higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday and said
it had fully funded its hourly U.S. pension plan.
Of the 382 companies in the S&P 500 that reported earnings
through Thursday morning, 67.5 percent beat profit expectations,
above the 63 percent average since 1994 and slightly above the
67 percent rate for the past four quarters, according to Thomson
Avon Products Inc shed 1.7 percent to $14.80 after
it posted fourth-quarter results and said it may cost as much as
$132 million to settle a U.S. bribery investigation into the
beauty products company's efforts to develop new markets
S&P 500 companies scheduled to report after the closing bell
include Agilent Technologies Inc, American International
Group, Cliffs Natural Resources Inc and Kraft
Foods Group Inc.