Investing.com - U.S. stocks drifted higher on Thursday after investors dismissed a mixed bag of economic indicators and applauded earnings and a Facebook announcement to buy messaging company WhatsApp.
At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.58%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.60%, while the Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.70%.
Hit-and-miss economic indicators failed to dampen spirits on Wall Street Thursday.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said that its manufacturing index plunged to minus 6.3 in February from January’s 9.4 reading. Analysts had expected the index to inch down to 8.0 in February, though winter storms may have bruised the number and not an underlying softening in demand.
Also on Thursday, the Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell by 3,000 to 336,000, slightly below expectations for a decline of 4,000.
In a separate report, the Labor Department said U.S. consumer prices rose 1.6% on a year-over-year basis in January, in line with forecasts. Consumer prices were 0.1% higher from a month earlier, also matching forecasts.
Core consumer prices, which are stripped of volatile food and energy components, were also up 1.6% on a year-over-year basis and 0.1% from the previous month.
Investors viewed the numbers as an indication that despite setbacks here and there, the U.S. economy continues to recover and will bring corporate fundamentals up with it down the road.
Stocks also rose on Facebook''s afterhours announcement Wednesday that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion in Facebook shares.
On the earnings front, Wal-Mart issued quarterly numbers that disappointed with soft same-store sales and a weaker full-year forecast, though Tesla Motors surprised on the upside
Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Verizon, up 3.41%, DuPont, up 1.67%, and Exxon Mobil, up 1.50%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average''s worst performers included Wal-Mart, down 1.74%, General Electric, down 1.08%, and Procter & Gamble, down 0.28%.
European indices, meanwhile, finished mixed.
After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.13%, France''s CAC 40 rose 0.33%, while Germany''s DAX 30 fell 0.43%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 rose 0.24%.
On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with private-sector data on existing homes sales.
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