(Updates to after the open)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose slightly
Thursday as an unexpected fall in jobless claims helped boost
sentiment on the labor market, considered the economy's biggest
obstacle to a strong recovery.
Weekly jobless claims declined more than expected to a
seasonally adjusted 473,000 in the latest week.
"After last week's disappointing figure, today's number is
certainly a relief, but it doesn't change the fact that it's
still very elevated at this point of an economic expansion,"
said Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak + Co in
"The labor market still remains very sluggish, with
businesses still reluctant to hire and take risk."
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.15 points,
or 0.00 percent, at 10,060.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 1.53 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,056.86. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 5.17 points, or 0.24
percent, at 2,146.71.
The jobless report came a day after weak readings on
durable goods and home sales added to a string of bearish data
that underlined concerns about a double-dip recession.
Central bankers from around the world will converge later
Thursday on the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, mountain resort to
assess the darkening economic outlook.
In a speech on Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben
Bernanke is likely to discuss the uncertain prospects for the
economy, but isn't expected to give many clues about whether
the central bank will pump more cash into the economy to keep
the recovery going.
In merger news, data storage company 3PAR Inc
accepted a raised buyout bid from Dell Inc, trumping a
bid from Hewlett-Packard Co . Shares of 3PAR slid 1.5
percent to $26.37, while Dell was flat at $11.80. HP, a Dow
component, was up 0.5 percent at $38.40.
Other economic data on tap later Thursday includes the
Chicago Federal Reserve Bank's July Midwest manufacturing
report and the Kansas City Fed's August manufacturing report.
Novell Inc is scheduled to report quarterly
results after the market closes and is seen posting a slight
decline in profit.
(Additional reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey