NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged slightly higher on Thursday, up for a fifth session, on better-than-expected jobless claims and trade data in the United States and hopes of further stimulus action from China’s central bank.
The Nasdaq outperformed the broader market, led higher by Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) after Goldman Sachs added the network equipment maker’s stock to its conviction buy list and Piper Jaffray raised its Cisco rating to “overweight.”
Cisco shares rose 2 percent to $17.54.
But the Wall Street gains were seen weak as investors feared the market may show signs of fatigue with the S&P 500 near a four-year high, up 1 percent for the week.
“There are worries that we have pushed over the 1,400 level not exactly at a good time, in terms of where the economy is now,” said Randy Warren, chief investment officer at Warren Financial Service in Exton, Pennsylvania.
“But the market is looking forward to what is coming next rather than the current state. There is a decent possibility of a QE3 that is slowly and steadily pushing the market higher.”
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 5.07 points, or 0.04 percent, at 13,180.71. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 2.30 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,404.52. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 8.26 points, or 0.27 percent, at 3,019.51.
The S&P 500, up for five weeks, has risen as investors bet central banks, including the Federal Reserve, will soon act in support of a stalling global economic recovery.
Chinese economic data kept alive talk that central banks will intervene to support the global economy as annual growth in factory output slowed to its weakest in more than three years in July while annual consumer price inflation hit a 30-month low.
Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week while the U.S. trade deficit in June was the smallest in 1-1/2 years, hopeful signs for the struggling economy.
Beauty products maker Elizabeth Arden (RDEN.O) forecast 2013 profit above estimates on stronger sales and its shares jumped 15.3 percent to $44.91.
Nestle (NESN.VX), the world’s biggest food group, said first-half results beat expectations and it expects pressure from the high prices of basic foodstuffs to ease in the second half of the year. Its shares, traded in Switzerland, rose 3 percent.
Shares of Robbins & Myers (RBN.N) jumped 27.2 percent to $59.57 after National Oilwell Varco (NOV.N) said it will buy Robbins & Myers for $2.54 billion in cash.
(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)