* Cisco jumps after earnings, outlook
* Wal-Mart slips after earnings miss
* Jobless claims climb, housing starts drop
* Indexes: Dow off 0.25 pct, S&P 0.31 pct, Nasdaq off 0.05
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, May 16 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed
on Thursday after softer-than-expected data on the manufacturing
sector and labor market, but gains in Cisco helped temper
Weekly initial jobless claims jumped by 32,000 to a
seasonally adjusted 360,000, the biggest jump since November and
above expectations. Housing starts were below
analysts' expectations, although applications to build new homes
Further weakness showed in data from the Philadelphia
Federal Reserve, whose business activity index dropped to minus
5.2, from 1.3 in April, worse than economists' expectations for
a slight gain.
But the Consumer Price Index posted the biggest decline
since December 2008, indicating inflation pressure remains tame
and giving the U.S. Federal Reserve latitude to maintain its
current monetary policy.
Data showing a modestly growing economy has increased
investor confidence the Fed will keep stimulus measures in
place, helping push yearly gains for both the Dow and S&P 500
indexes to more than 16 percent.
"Everyone is waiting for some sort of pullback and we
haven't had one in a very long time, when the momentum is
stronger we don't see a larger pullback that people are
expecting," said Amy Magnotta, Portfolio Manager and Senior
Investment Analyst at Brinker Capital in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
"Even when we have gotten worse data, the market has turned
around, so today could go either way."
But gains in Cisco Systems Inc, which surged 13.2
percent to $24, helped limit declines on the Dow and S&P and
lift the Nasdaq after the network equipment maker posted a
higher-than-expected quarterly profit and said current-quarter
revenue could increase.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 38.02
points, or 0.25 percent, to 15,237.67. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index lost 5.08 points, or 0.31 percent, to 1,653.70. The
Nasdaq Composite Index shed 1.81 points, or 0.05
percent, to 3,469.81.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the world's largest retailer
fell 1.4 percent to $78.73 after posting a quarterly profit that
missed Wall Street expectations, with sales down 1.4 percent at
U.S. stores open at least a year.
Tesla Motors Inc advanced 5.3 percent to $89.35
after the electric carmaker said it aims to raise $830 million
through a stock and debt offering that will be used to repay its
U.S. Department of Energy loans with interest. The stock has
surged more than 50 percent since posting earnings last week.
Berkshire Hathaway B-class shares slipped 0.5
percent to $112.22 after Standard & Poor's downgraded the
company's counterparty rating to "AA" from "AA+" with a negative
outlook, citing the company's reliance on its insurance
operations for dividend income.