Stocks opened little changed Thursday, as investors looked for further evidence that the U.S. economy is on the road to recovery.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 7 points, the S&P 500 gained 1 point, or 0.1%, and the Nasdaq added 5 points, or 0.2%.
The government released data on initial jobless claims and producer prices, as well as on foreign purchases of Treasuries. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia will also release the results of its regional outlook for March.
Overall, analysts say stocks are poised to continue heading higher, as the U.S. economy strengthens and Europe makes progress on its debt problems.
Bank stocks have been in focus this week following the results of the Federal Reserve's latest stress tests, which said a majority of the nation's largest banks would be able to weather another deep recession.
But the Fed said four institutions -- including Citigroup and Metlife -- would likely need to raise more capital in the event of a severe financial shock or economic downturn.
Overall, U.S. stocks ended mixed on Wednesday, one day after a big advance, as declines in bank stocks vied with strength in the technology sector.
World markets: European stocks were mixed in morning trading. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.2%, while the DAX in Germany added 0.3% and France's CAC 40 edged up 0.1%.
Asian markets ended mixed. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.7%, while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong rose 0.2% and Japan's Nikkei gained 0.7%.
Economy: Initial unemployment claims for the week ended March 10 fell to 351,000, compared to 365,000 the prior week. That was slightly less than the forecast of 355,000, according to a survey of analysts by Briefing.com.
Producer prices for February increased 0.4%, which was slightly less than the expected increase of 0.5%. That's compared to January, when the PPI ticked up by 0.1%.
The Empire Manufacturing survey rose to 20.2 in March, much higher than the reading of 15 that analysts were expecting. The index was 19.5 in February.
The Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook Survey index is expected to stand at 12.5, up from 10.2 in the month prior. Companies: Cisco Systems share slipped after the San Jose, Calif.-company announced its $5 billion bid to buy NDS Group Ltd., a British provider of video software with 5,000 employees.
NDS is privately held by News Corp. and Permira.
Scholastic shares surged after the publishing company reported revenue of $468 million and a loss per share of 10 cents, a much better performance than the $393 million in revenue and 70 cent-per-share loss that analysts had expected.
Discount retailer Ross Stores reported fourth-quarter results in line with analysts' expectations, sending shares slightly lower.
Capital One Financial shares slipped after the company announced a $1.25 billion common stock offering on Wednesday to help finance its acquisition of HSBC's U.S. credit card business.
Apple Inc. jumped to touch an all-time high above the $600 per share benchmark.
Currencies and commodities: The dollar lost ground against the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.
Oil for April delivery rose 22 cents to $105.65 a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose $1.80 to $1,644.70 an ounce.
Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury dropped, pushing the yield up to 2.29% from 2.27% late Wednesday.
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