US stocks end mixed amid economic data

New York, Feb 17 (IANS) US stocks finished narrowly mixed with the Dow Jones Industrial Average eking out a new closing record, as Wall Street digested a batch of economic reports.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday rose 7.91 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 20,619.77, Xinhua news agency reported.

The S&P 500 fell 2.03 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 2,347.22. The Nasdaq Composite Index decreased 4.54 points, or 0.08 percent, to 5,814.90.

In the week ending February 11, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 239,000, an increase of 5,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 234,000, the US Labor Department reported on Thursday.

US privately-owned housing starts in January came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,246,000, beating market consensus, the Commerce Department announced on Thursday.

“Even with the pullback from December, housing starts are 10.5 per cent higher at the start of this year than they were in January 2016. Home construction looks poised to continue to grow in the coming year, a positive for the housing market where one of the biggest hurdles at this stage in the recovery is still tight supply,” said Sophia Kearney-Lederman, an economic analyst at FTN Financial.

Investors became cautious after recent sharply gains. On Wednesday, all three major indices ended at record highs. The tech-heavy Nasdaq extended its record run to a seventh straight session, while both the blue-chip Dow and the broader S&P 500 closed at records for five consecutive days.

US stocks have posted sharp gains since Donald Trump won the presidential election, as investors bet that he would pursue massive corporate tax cuts, deregulation and infrastructure spending.

In corporate news, shares of Cisco Systems Inc. jumped 2.38 per cent to $33.60 apiece on Thursday after the networking-equipment giant delivered better-than-expected quarterly results late on Wednesday.