Stocks opened lower Thursday after a report showed initial claims for unemployment benfits rose unexpectedly for the second straight week.
The Dow shed nearly 20 points at the open, led by Alcoa , Disney and Walmart. Intel and Bank of America were among the early gainers.
Banks got a boost amid projections for a solid earnings season for the sector. Citigroup hit $5 a share, a level it hasn't seen since late last year.
Stocks were already on track for a pullback after five straight days of gains, which had pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and Nasdaq to multi-year highs in the previous session. The S&P crossed the 1,200 mark — and finished above it — for the first time since September 2008.
The Nasdaq and S&P 500 had their biggest percentage gains since early March Wednesday, and more than 25 percent of the S&P 500 chalked up new 52-week highs.
Adding pressure to U.S. stocks, first-time requests for jobless benefits rose to 484,000 last week, the highest levels since late February. Economists had expected claims to fall to 440,000.
In the morning's other economic news: The Philadelphia Fed reported its manufacturing index rose to 20.2 in April from 18.9 in March — just a tad better than the 20 expected. But the Empire State manufacturing survey blew forecasts out of the water, jumping to 31.86 from 22.86, well above the 24 expected. And industrial production ticked up 0.1 percent in March; economists had expected a more robust increase of 0.8 percent. Capacity utilization rose to 73.2 percent from 73.
Still to come: At 1 pm, the National Association of Home Builders sentiment index will be released. It is forecast to rise one point to 16 from last month.
The Dow is now 70 percent above the March 2009 lows, the S&P 500, 79 percent higher. The Nasdaq Composite has nearly doubled, registering a 97.4 percent gain since that date.
Asian stocks managed to close mostly higher in the wake of better-than-expected gross domestic product data out of China. But European shares slipped amid more worries about Greece.
Greek bond spreads got hammered once again and the country may cancel its dollar bond offering amid weak demand.
Another Fed parade today: Speeches are scheduled from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher, Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, and San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen. All but Yellen's speech take place during the trading day. CNBC's Steve Liesman will have an exclusive interview with Lacker at 2 pm.
UPS shares shot up more than 5 percent after the package-delivery service said its first-quarter earnings would be much higher than expected and raised its full-year outlook.
Restaurant operator Yum Brands exceeded Wall Street forecasts with its latest earnings report.
After the bell, reports are due out from Google and AMD.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported that German and Russian officials are investigating whether Hewlett-Packard paid millions in bribes to win a contract in Russia.
Still to Come:
THURSDAY: Taxes due; Philly Fed report; Fed's Lacker, Bullard & Lockhart speak; housing-market index; earnings from Google, AMD
FRIDAY: State unemployment rates; housing starts; Fed's Warsh speaks; consumer sentiment; earnings from Bank of America, GE, Mattel & Gannett
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