U.S. stocks closed slightly higher Thursday as investors disregarded a bad batch of economic data and lackluster earnings.
In U.S. economic news, the government reported that retail sales unexpectedly fell in January. Economists were looking for no change last month, but sales dropped 0.4 percent. Excluding auto sales, sales were flat. Sales for November and December were also revised lower. Higher-than-expected unemployment claims were also a negative.
In international economic news, European markets finished the day mixed, while Asian markets ended with losses, led by the Nikkei, which fell 1.8 percent.
In corporate news, shares of Dow component Cisco fell after the company's weak revenue guidance disappointed investors. The stock was the worst performer in the Dow. Despite reporting lower revenue and earnings, Cisco raised its dividend. Cable stocks were moving dramatically after Comcast announced plans to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion deal that would combine the two biggest cable companies in the United States. Shares of Whole Foods fell sharply after the grocery chain's first quarter profit and sales figures fell short of expectations. The company also cut its earnings guidance for the year. Pepsi announced an increase in quarterly profit and revenue, but missed sales estimates, sending shares lower.
The dollar gained ground against the euro, the pound, and the yen. Light sweet crude oil for March delivery dropped 0.02 cents to $100.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures added $5.10 to $1,300.10 an ounce.
The Dow Jones industrial average moved up 63.65, or 0.40 percent, to 16,027.59. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index climbed 10.57, or 0.58 percent, to 1,829.83. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 39.38, or 0.94 percent, to 4,240.67.