US stocks closed mixed Thursday after choppy trading, as Wall Street digested soft economic reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 9.38 points, or 0.05 percent, to 17,720.50. The S&P 500 edged down 0.35 point, or 0.02 percent, to 2,064.11. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 23.35 points, or 0.49 percent, to 4,737.33.
In the week ending May 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims increased 20,000 from the previous week's unrevised level to 294,000, well above market consensus of 267,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. This is the highest level for initial claims since Feb. 28, 2015 when it was 310,000.
The 4-week moving average was 268,250, an increase of 10,250 from the previous week's unrevised average of 258,000.
"If claims remain in the vicinity of 300k, it would indicate a deteriorating job picture. Watch the 4-wk average. If it remains near current levels, there's nothing to worry about. If it starts to rise in the next few weeks, it's a signal of slower employment growth to come," said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial.
In a separate report, the Labor Department announced that the price index for U.S. imports rose 0.3 percent in April following a 0.3-percent increase in March, and U.S. export prices increased 0.5 percent in April after recording no change the previous month.
Overseas, European equities declined Thursday amid earnings reports. German benchmark DAX index at Frankfurt Stock Exchange lost 1.13 percent, while British benchmark FTSE 100 Index decreased 0.98 percent.
In Asia, Chinese benchmark Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.04 percent to close at 2,835.86 points.