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Shedding heavy losses from earlier in the day, Wall Street climbed Thursday as traders shrugged off worse-than-expected retail sales data.

Today's Markets

As 11:13 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 5.7 points, or 0.04%, to 15969, the S&P 500 advanced 2 points, or 0.11%, to 1821 and the Nasdaq Composite climbed 14.7 points, or 0.35%, to 4216.

The S&P 500 snapped a four-day winning streak Wednesday, and the negative sentiment appeared to mount on Thursday until it shifted in mid-morning trade. 

Every sector besides financials and industrials were in the green, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 hit a multi-year high.

Still, Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said a mixture of concerns about how emerging-market central banks will deal with the end of the Federal Reserve's bond-buying program, coupled with a string of earnings misses from major European firms was adding to the gloom. 

Mirroring those concerns, Michael Block, chief strategist at Rhino Trading Partners, said traders were concerned over weaker guidance from networking giant Cisco (CSCO) and earnings misses from European players Nestle and BNP Paribas. 

On the economic front, the Commerce Department said retail sales in January fell 0.4% from the month prior, compared to estimates the gauge would hold steady. Excluding the auto segment, sales were unchanged for the month. Weather has had an outsize impact on economic data recently, and many analysts said that might have impacted these data as well. 

"Simply put, January’s retail sales report was not good at all," Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG wrote in an email. "Taking into consideration revisions to the prior month’s data, this report is even worse."

Still, he noted the "underlying, non-weather influenced trend of the economy is better."

The Labor Department reported The number of Americans filing for first-time jobless benefits rose last week to 339,000 from 331,000 the week prior. Wall Street was looking for the number of claims to fall to 330,000.

Elsewhere on the corporate front, Comcast (CMCSA) said it will buy Time Warner Cable (TWC) in an all-stock merger valued at $45.2 billion. Insurance giant American International Group (AIG) is set to post its quarterly results after the closing bell. 

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures fell 55 cents, or 0.55%, to $99.82 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.88% to $2.839 a gallon. Gold slumped $3.10, or 0.24%, to $1,292 a troy ounce. 

 

Follow Adam Samson on Twitter @adamsamson.