* Dow transports hit intraday record high
* Q4 GDP revised to show growth, jobless claims fall
* J.C. Penney, Groupon both sink on weak revenue
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct
By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK, Feb 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on
Thursday with investors hard-pressed to lift indexes to
multi-year highs despite strong economic data.
The U.S. economy ticked up in the fourth quarter, reversing
an earlier estimate showing contraction, and a drop in new
claims for unemployment benefits last week added to a string of
data that suggests the economy improved early this year.
Still, the positive revision to GDP data was expected and
the claims continue a trend that is baked into prices. The
market lacks catalysts as it digests its recent move higher,
according to Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus
& Co in Florham Park, New Jersey, where he helps oversee $120
billion in assets under management.
"That's why I think you're seeing a fairly listless trading
environment today," Caron said.
The Dow was within striking distance of a record high after
a more than 7 percent year-to-date run. The Dow transports index
, seen as a bet on future growth, is up almost 13 percent
this year and hit a record intraday high Thursday before turning
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 14.79 points or
0.11 percent, to 14,090.16, the S&P 500 gained 3.12
points or 0.21 percent, to 1,519.11 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 9.13 points or 0.29 percent, to 3,171.39.
The Dow's intraday record, set Oct. 11, 2007, stands at
The S&P 500 has gained more than 2 percent in the past three
Equity markets suffered steep losses earlier in the week on
concerns over the impact of an Italian election on the European
economy, but bounced back on strong data and recent comments by
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke that showed continued
support for the Fed's economic stimulus policy.
J.C. Penney Co Inc slumped 17.9 percent to $17.38
after the department store reported a steep drop in sales on
Wednesday. Groupon Inc also slumped on weak revenue,
with the stock off 20 percent at $4.76.
Cablevision shares tumbled nearly 10 percent after
the cable provider took a $100 million hit on costs related to
Superstorm Sandy and posted deeper video customer losses than
Mylan Inc shares were on track to close at their
highest ever after the generic drugmaker posted a 25 percent
rise in fourth-quarter profit and said it will buy a unit of
India's Strides Arcolab Ltd. Shares were last up 3.8 percent at
Investors were keeping an eye on the debate in Washington
over U.S. government budget cuts that will take effect starting
Friday if lawmakers fail to reach agreement on spending and
taxes. President Barack Obama and Republican congressional
leaders arranged last-ditch talks to prevent the cuts, but
expectations were low that any deal would emerge.
With 93 percent of the S&P 500 companies having reported
results so far, 69.5 percent have beaten profit expectations,
compared with a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent
over the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies are estimated
to have risen 6.2 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9
percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.