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US stocks rise despite disappointing economic data

US stocks have ended higher, shrugging off some disappointing retail sales and jobless claims data.

NEW YORK: US stocks on Thursday ended higher, shrugging off some disappointing retail sales and jobless claims data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 63.65 points (0.40 per cent) to 16,027.59.

The broad-based S&P 500 tacked on 10.57 points (0.58 per cent) to 1,829.83, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 39.38 points (0.94 per cent) to 4,240.67.

Stocks opened lower, but stayed positive following a late-morning rise after some lacklustre data.

US retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.4 per cent in January in the second straight monthly decline, according to the Commerce Department.

The Labor Department reported weekly first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose to 339,000 from 331,000 the previous week, slightly more than expected but in line with the longer-term trend.

Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities, said investors saw the data as "primarily weather-related" after a streak of severe winter weather has depressed economic activity.

The recent pullback in stocks is "a decent opportunity to put some money to work," said James.

But Brent Schutte, a market strategist at BMO Global Asset Management, said Thursday's trade shows "the market believes the Fed is going to stay around longer" in providing easy money to support the economy.

Comcast unveiled a proposed $45.2 billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable in an all-stock deal that would combine the top two US cable TV companies.

Comcast shares fell 4.1 per cent, while Time Warner Cable jumped 7 per cent.

The deal was a setback for Charter Communications, which had sought to acquire TWC. Charter shares fell 6.3 per cent.

PEPSICO fell 2.2 per cent as it rejected a call to spin off the company's North American drinks business, arguing the products are essential to its overall retail performance.

Activist shareholder Nelson Peltz had pressed for the spin-off in light of declining sales. Quarterly profits rose 4.9 per cent to $1.7 billion.

General Motors fell 1 per cent after announcing a recall of nearly 780,000 sedans sold in North America for an ignition switch problem that could shut off a moving car's electrical devices, including airbags.

Technology giant Cisco fell 2.5 per cent due to a weak earnings report that showed a 54.5 per cent decline in profits to $1.4 billion. Chief executive John Chambers cited disappointing sales in emerging markets as a major drag on results.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury slipped to 2.74 per cent from 2.76 per cent, while the 30-year fell to 3.69 per cent from 3.72 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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