U.S. stocks on Thursday were little changed, with the S&P 500 again finishing at a record high, a day after Wall Street rallied on reassurances from the Federal Reserve that interest rates would remain low as the U.S. economy continues to recover.
Thursday's modest decline can be chalked up to a round of profit taking, said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab: "We get one nearly every time the S&P 500 hits a new high, so it's not at all uncommon for us to see a dip every time we get to a new record."
Kroger rallied after the supermarket chain posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit and hiked its outlook for full-year adjusted profit; BlackBerry surged after the smartphone maker tallied less of a first-quarter loss than analysts had expected; Red Hat gained after the provider of Linux operating-system software hiked its annual revenue outlook, and Starbucks advanced after UBS upgraded its rating on the coffee chain to buy from neutral.
After the Fed signaled it would be "supportive for a considerable period of time, we are settling back into a catalyst-light mode," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, referring to Thursday's economic data as second-tier in terms of market impact.
"We continue to look for improvement, and second-quarter data, ex-housing, has been better," said Hogan.
Leading indicators were up 0.5 percent in May, versus a 0.6 percent estimate, while a separate report had the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's June business index at 14.5, down from the prior month's reading of 15.4.
And, in another illustration of an improving labor market, the government reported fewer Americans filed claims for jobless benefits last week, with applications falling by 6,000 to 312,000.