US STOCKS-Wall St flat after rally, Barnes & Noble soars

Last Updated: Thu, May 09, 2013 13:50 hrs

* Jobless claims unexpectedly fall in latest week

* Barnes & Noble soars after TechCrunch report

* Tesla Motors and Groupon soar after results

* Indexes: Dow flat, S&P down 0.1 pct, Nasdaq flat

By Ryan Vlastelica

NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged lower on Thursday despite stronger-than-expected data on the labor market, with Wall Street coming off a sustained rally that took the S&P 500 to record closing highs for five straight sessions.

Jobless claims unexpectedly fell in the latest week by 1,000 to 323,000, their lowest in more than five years. Analysts had expected claims to jump to 335,000.

The data added to a positive tone set by Friday's payroll report, which was much stronger than expected and suggested that fears of slowing growth may be overdone. The S&P 500 has risen every session since then, adding 3.2 percent over the period, while the Dow has also set records.

The claims data "is more fuel to send shares higher," said Todd Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital in New York. "While we may get a pullback at these levels, that would make for an excellent entry point for investors. There are no major headwinds out there right now, and stocks should continue their upward pattern."

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 4.75 points, or 0.03 percent, at 15,100.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 1.43 points, or 0.09 percent, at 1,631.26. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 1.40 points, or 0.04 percent, at 3,411.86.

The S&P 500 has climbed 14.5 percent so far this year, while the Dow has advanced 15.3 percent and the Nasdaq has gained 13 percent. Still, the market remains below overbought territory, with the relative strength index on the S&P 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 conviction.

Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc soared 25 percent to $22.15, hitting a fresh 52-week high after web publication TechCrunch reported that Microsoft Corp was considering an offer to acquire all of Nook Media's digital assets for $1 billion.

Tesla Motors Inc jumped 25 percent to $69.57 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 5.9 percent to $33.74.

Groupon Inc posted revenue growth of 7.5 percent in the first quarter, more than analysts had expected. Shares jumped 13 percent to $6.31.

With about 440 S&P 500 components having reported, earnings have largely been better than expected this quarter, with the majority of companies surpassing estimates. Still, most companies have missed revenue expectations.

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