* Retail stocks lead the S&P 500 after April sales outlook
* Three of the Dow's five top gainers reach 52-week highs
* Encouraging jobless claims counter weak payroll report
* PC shares slide after firm says PC sales plummeted in Q1
* Dow up 0.4 pct, S&P 500 up 0.4 pct, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose for a fourth
straight day on Thursday, sending the Dow and the S&P 500 to new
closing highs as positive data on the labor market and an
encouraging retail outlook eased recent concerns about economic
Despite the S&P 500's gain of 11.7 percent this year,
investors have fretted about the pace of recovery, especially
after last week's dramatically weak March payrolls report.
Jobless claims fell far more than expected in the latest
week, dropping to the lower end of the range for the year. In
another sign that the economy might be in better shape than some
recent data had indicated, retail executives and analysts
forecast improved same-store sales in April after mixed results
Several of the S&P 500's top percentage gainers were
retailers, with discount chain Ross Stores up 5.9
percent at $63.80, Victoria's Secret parent L Brands Inc
up 4.3 percent at $50.25, and J.C. Penney Co up 5.5
percent at $14.86. The SPDR S&P retail ETF jumped 2
percent to end at a new closing high of $72.98. The S&P 500
retail index hit a 52-week high at 751.72 and then
eased a bit to end up 1.2 percent at 747.34.
"This data is especially welcome on the heels of last week's
jobs report, and it just adds to the tremendous demand that
there continues to be for equities," said Leo Grohowski, chief
investment officer at BNY Mellon Wealth Management in New York.
"The money that has been waiting for a pullback is running out
Still, the Nasdaq's gains were limited as technology stocks
sold off on an industry report showing shipments of personal
computers had fallen significantly in the first quarter. The S&P
information technology sector index slipped 0.5
Hewlett-Packard Co slid 6.5 percent to $20.88 as the
S&P 500's top percentage loser, followed by Microsoft Corp
, down 4.5 percent at $28.94. Microsoft was also hit
after Goldman Sachs downgraded the stock to "sell" from
"neutral," citing "worsening PC trends and a lack of traction in
tablets and smartphones."
Both HP and Microsoft are Dow components, but the index saw
plenty of strength from other members. Three of the blue-chip
average's five biggest gainers - Pfizer Inc, Boeing Co
and Home Depot Inc - all hit new 52-week highs.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62.90 points,
or 0.42 percent, to close at 14,865.14. The Standard & Poor's
500 Index rose 5.64 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,593.37.
The Nasdaq Composite Index edged up 2.90 points, or 0.09
percent, to close at 3,300.16.
All three indexes finished higher for the fourth straight
day. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 reached new all-time intraday
highs in midday trading before ending at new closing highs. The
Dow climbed to an intraday record peak at 14,887.51, while the
S&P 500 set a record session high at 1,597.35.
"It's amazing to me that we're already a few points away
from our mid-year target of 1,600, which had seemed somewhat
aggressive," said Grohowski, who oversees about $179 billion in
client assets. "But there's still skepticism about the market
and tons of cash on the sidelines, which encourages me that the
market can continue to pull higher."
The Dow got its biggest boost from Pfizer, up 2.4
percent at $30.64 after JPMorgan raised its target price on the
U.S. drugmaker's stock to $33 from $32.
Acadia Pharmaceuticals Inc surged 64.4 percent to
$13.10 after the drugmaker said data from an initial late-stage
trial would be sufficient to file for approval for its
experimental antipsychotic drug for Parkinson's disease
patients. Earlier, Acadia's stock touched a session high at
$13.92, its highest since November 2007.
Other economic data showed import prices slipped 0.5 percent
last month, in line with expectations, while export prices fell
0.4 percent, signaling inflation pressure remained tepid and
would allow the Federal Reserve to continue with its current
About 59 percent of New York Stock Exchange-listed shares
closed higher while slightly more Nasdaq-listed shares fell than
rose. About 6.17 billion shares changed hands on the New York
Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and NYSE MKT, below the daily average
so far this year of about 6.36 billion shares.