Stocks rebounded off a weak open Thursday after a report showed manufacturing in the Philadelphia region improved in February.
The weak open was largely attributed to disappointing reports on jobless claims and inflation.
The Philadelphia branch of the Fed said its gauge of regional manufacturing rose to 17.6 in February from 15.2 in January. Economists had expected the gauge to rise to 17, according to a Reuters survey. Measures of new orders and employment hit their highest levels since the fall.
Among the morning's other economic reports: Leading indicators rose 0.3 percent and producer prices climbed 1.4 percent, both in January, while initial jobless claims unexpectedly rose by 31,000last week.
The dollar fell against the yenafter the early reports but was still higher against the euro. Oil and gold rose. The IMF this morning announced plans to sell its remaining gold.
The economic data overshadowed some encouraging earnings reports.
Hewlett-Packard was the biggest gainer on the Dow after the tech giant beat earnings estimates and raised its full-year guidance.
Chip-equipment maker Applied Materialsalso beat estimates and raised its guidance.
Wal-Mart Stores was the biggest drag on the Dow after the discount giant beat on earnings but disappointed investors with weaker than expected revenueand a cautious outlook.
Also in earnings, Goodyear Tire posted results that beat Wall Street expectations, while Hormel also reported a higher profit.
Barrick Gold said its profit more than doubled due to stronger gold prices, while the company is spinning off its African operations.
US regulators have denied approval to XenoPort and GlaxoSmithKline for a drug to treat restless leg syndrome. Tests found a potential link to cancer found in rats. XenoPort shares tumbled 62 percent on the news.
Still to come: The Energy Information Administration releases two weekly inventory reports: natural gas at 10:30 am, and crude oil at 11 am. The oil report was delayed a day by the President's Day holiday.
THURSDAY: Leading indicators; Philly Fed; weekly crude inventories; Fed's Duke, Lockhart & Bullard speak; Earnings from CBS and Dell after the bell
FRIDAY: CPI; Earnings from JCPenney
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