* Jobless claims unexpectedly fall in latest week
* Barnes & Noble soars after TechCrunch report of Microsoft
* Tesla Motors and Groupon soar after results
* Dow off 0.1 pct; S&P down 0.3 pct; Nasdaq off 0.04 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 edged lower on
Thursday, coming off its record highs, as data showing signs of
improvement in the labor market was not enough of a catalyst to
add to the recent upward momentum.
Utility and financial stocks were among the top decliners as
investors unloaded some shares to take profits from the recent
rally. The S&P utilities sector index slid 1.3
percent, while the S&P financial sector index shed 0.5
Technology shares, which were lower in earlier trading,
turned around as Apple erased losses to trade flat by
midday. Apple was off 0.1 percent at $460.36.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment
benefits fell last week to the lowest level in almost 5-1/2
years - contrary to economists' forecast of a gain - U.S. Labor
Department data showed. But the stock market's reaction was
muted, with Wall Street coming off a sustained rally that took
the S&P 500 to record closing highs for five straight sessions.
"We've had such a consistent upward move that investors need
some real new news to keep the momentum going," said Rick
Meckler, president of hedge fund LibertyView Capital Management
LLC in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"The jobless claims were a good number, but not enough of
'new news.' Investors want to see something that shows a good
pickup in economic activity."
The market's uptrend has been boosted by strong corporate
earnings and an accommodative monetary environment from the
Federal Reserve, which analysts say makes stocks cheaper than
other asset classes on a valuation basis. Investors have used
any market declines in 2013 as a buying opportunity.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 9.73
points, or 0.06 percent, at 15,095.39. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 4.31 points, or 0.26 percent, at
1,628.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.51
points, or 0.04 percent, at 3,411.75.
The S&P 500 has climbed about 14.3 percent so far this year,
while the Dow has advanced about 15.2 percent and the Nasdaq has
gained 13.1 percent. Still, the market remains below overbought
territory, with the relative strength index on the S&P 500
slightly below 70.
While moves have been slight this week - the S&P rose just
0.5 percent on its strongest day - the three major U.S. stock
indexes have ended sessions higher than where they began, an
indication that positive momentum will continue. Trading volumes
have been below average, however, which could indicate a lack of
Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc jumped 19.3 percent to
$21.19, after hitting a fresh 52-week high of $22.25 after web
publication TechCrunch reported that Microsoft Corp was
considering an offer to acquire all of Nook Media's digital
assets for $1 billion.
Microsoft shares slipped 0.5 percent to $32.81.
Tesla Motors Inc jumped 25.7 percent to $70.20 a
day after posting adjusted earnings that were three times what
analysts were expecting as the company sold more cars than it
had initially forecast.
News Corp reported earnings late Wednesday that
beat expectations while revenue rose 14 percent. Rupert
Murdoch's media company also said it was on track to split off
its slow-growing publishing business by the end of June. Shares
rose 4.1 percent to $33.18.
Groupon Inc posted revenue growth of 7.5 percent in
the first quarter, more than analysts had expected. Its stock
surged 9.1 percent to $6.10.
With about 440 S&P 500 companies having reported results so
far, earnings have largely been better than expected this
quarter, with the majority surpassing estimates. On the other
hand, most companies have missed revenue expectations.