New York: US stocks rose slightly on Thursday on gains by some retail stores and stronger job sector data, but declines in chipmakers eased the market off its highs.
Sales at retail stores open at least a year rose 3.1% last month, according to company reports. Department store operator JC Penney Co rose 6% and teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co jumped 7%.
New claims for state jobless benefits fell last week to their lowest level in two months, the Labor Department said.
But semiconductor shares dropped after posting their best day in weeks. Micron Technology fell 3.5% to $8.58 and the PHLX semiconductor index fell 1.6% after rising more than 5% on Wednesday.
“Retail sales were not great but were good. Then you get new claims falling, so you just break a three-week stretch where every piece of data was worse than expected,” said John Canally, investment strategist at LPL Financial in Boston.
“But chipmakers are very sensitive to US consumer demand, so you may be seeing some reaction to sales not being great.”
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.81 points, or 0.49%, to 10,067.09. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 2.70 points, or 0.25%, to 1,062.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.31 point, or 0.01%, to 2,159.16.
Even though sales increased, retailers relied heavily on promotions to win over cautious consumers in June. For details see. Some chains’ results disappointed, including Gap, which fell 7.6% to $18.27.
J.C. Penney rose to $23.06 while Abercrombie & Fitch rose to $35.14.
Financial stocks were lower on talk about stress tests in Europe and concerns about US regulatory reform, according to Canally.
JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 1.2% to $37.68, giving up some of the 5% rise posted on Wednesday. The KBW bank index fell 0.3%.
Shares of H&R Block Inc fell as much as 13% to their year low a day after the chief executive of the largest US tax preparer resigned. Its shares last traded 7.4% lower at $14.35.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 454,000 in the week ended 3 July, the lowest level since early May, the department said.