U.S. stocks held modest gains Thursday as investors weighed the latest corporate results against signs of economic weakness.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 34.66 points, or 0.2%, to end the day at 12,943.36. The S&P 500 edged up 3.73 points, or 0.3%, to 1,376.51 The Nasdaq advanced 23.3 points, or 0.8%, to 2,965.90
The advance came despite a rash of disappointing economic reports. Investors were encouraged by some better-than-expected corporate results, though the outlook for profits in the second half of the year is murky.
Analysts say the market''s resiliency suggests investors are in a holding pattern, with a bias toward buying selective stocks, as they struggle with a lack of direction.
IBM led gainers on the Dow. Big Blue reported quarterly earnings late Wednesday that beat analyst expectations and issued upbeat guidance. Shares were up nearly 4%.
Financial shares weighed on the index. Shares of American Express fell 3.5% after the company said Wednesday that earnings rose in the second quarter, although customer spending was weak.
After the market closed, Google reported stronger-than-expected quarterly profits, although sales growth was below forecast. Microsoft reported a quarterly loss, reflecting a $6.2-billion U.S. charge related to its online services department.
Investors had been bracing for a lackluster quarter, but the bulk of corporate results have come in above expectations.
Of the 77 S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings through Wednesday, 48 have topped forecasts, according to research from S&P Capital IQ.
Economically speaking, the worrisome state of the economy may also be limiting gains for the broader market. Initial jobless claims last week came in higher than expected, at 386,000. That was an increase of 34,000 from the previous week''s revised figure.
The National Association of Realtors said sales of existing homes fell 5.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.37 million in June, from an upwardly revised 4.62 million in May. Analysts were expecting sales to come in at an annual rate of 4.65 million.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia released its Business Outlook index, which showed manufacturing activity in the region remains weak so far this month. And after rising for two months in a row, the Conference Board''s index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.3% in June to 95.6.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 1.52% from 1.48% late Wednesday. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Oil for August delivery rose $2.36 to $92.23 U.S.a barrel.
Gold futures for August delivery rose $9.60 to $1,580.04 U.S. an ounce.