U.S. stocks climbed on Thursday, clearing initial losses, after better-than-expected earnings from companies including Goodyear Tire & Rubber helped deflect weaker-than-anticipated economic data.
"The earnings season has been a little better than people thought, although analysts continue to reduce their estimates for the next quarter," said Bob Baur, chief global economist at Principal Global Investors.
Ahead of the open, stock futures intensified their losses after the data, with sentiment already lower after a disappointing forecast from Cisco Systems.The network gear maker projected a drop of 6 to 8 percent in revenue in the current quarter.
The Labor Department reported applications for unemployment benefits climbed by 8,000 to 339,000, higher than the 300,000 projected by economists. Separately, the Commerce Department reported retail sales fell 0.4 percent last month from December, versus expectations they would be flat.
"The retail sales number was disappointing, but I think we have to remember how poor the weather was in January, and continues to be in February, so we're taking the recent spate of less-than-wonderful data with a grain of salt. We may see a bounce back in the second quarter, when things get back to more normal," said Baur.