NEW YORK, May 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks gained for a second consecutive day after a flat opening on Thursday, as investors mulled a bunch of mixed economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 10.02 points, or 0.06 percent, to 16,543.08. The broader S&P 500 rose 4.46 points, or 0. 24 percent, to 1,892.49. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 22.80 points, or 0.55 percent, to 4,154.34.
Trading volume was light during the day, as investors were reluctant to make a big move after major stock indices refreshed record highs over a week ago, waiting for more catalysts coming out to dictate the market.
Economic data came out mixed, failing to provide a clear direction for the market, which narrowly fluctuated above flatline after a mixed opening.
The number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits in the week ending May 17 increased 28,000 to a seasonally adjusted 326,000, said the Labor Department before the opening bell. The increase was well beyond analysts' expectations.
Operating conditions in the U.S. manufacturing sector continued to improve during May, with strong rises in production and output complemented by further payroll growth, said data firm Markit Thursday morning. After accounting for seasonal factors, the Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index improved to 56.2 in May, up from April's 55.4.
Meanwhile, U.S. existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased for the first time this year in April, rising 1.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.65 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. But the reading still trailed analyst expectations.
Moreover, the Conference Board Leading Economic Index for the U. S. increased 0.4 percent in April to 101.4, up for the third consecutive month, driven largely by improving housing and financial market conditions, meeting market consensus.
In corporate news, JD.com, China's largest direct online sales company, announced that its initial public offering of 93,685,620 American Depositary Shares (ADSs) was priced at 19.00 U.S. dollars per ADS, trading on Nasdaq Thursday under the ticker symbol "JD."
The Amazon-like company's shares closed at 20.90 dollars per ADS on the first trading day, up 10 percent compared with its IPO price.
Most of the S&P 500's ten sectors rose, with utilities, healthcare and telecom leading the gains. Energy and consumer staples are the only two sectors dropped.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of fear in the market, added 1.01 percent to end at 12.03.
In other markets, the dollar strengthened against most major currencies Thursday amid a string of mixed U.S. economic data.
In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3651 dollars from 1.3678 dollars in the previous session. The dollar bought 101. 80 Japanese yen, higher than 101.40 yen of the previous session.
Oil prices fell as more-than-expected Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. Light, sweet crude for July delivery moved up 33 cents to settle at 103.74 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rose after India eased its import restrictions for gold. The most active gold contract for June delivery rose 6.9 dollars, or 0.54 percent, to settle at 1295 dollars per ounce.