U.S. shares up, Treasuries lower amid mixed data

NEW YORK Thu Jan 31, 2013 9:01pm IST

A flag is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, January 4, 2013. EUTERS/Eric Thayer

A flag is seen outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, January 4, 2013. EUTERS/Eric Thayer

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose and Treasuries fell on Thursday but moves were limited as economic data continued to paint a mixed picture of the economy ahead of a key U.S. jobs report on Friday.

A measure of business activity in the U.S. Midwest rose in January to its strongest since April, but an earlier report indicated a rise in U.S. jobless claims in the latest week.

Data on Wednesday showed U.S. GDP slipped 0.1 percent where a rise had been expected, although the Federal Reserve indicated the pullback was likely to be brief and repeated its promise to continue supporting the economy.

But the larger focus is U.S. payrolls data on Friday for a take on the health of the world's biggest economy.

"Unfortunately it's still a mixed picture, it appears we are just getting a lot of conflicting data right now," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. "There is certainly a lot of information coming out this week - a lot of economic data, a lot of earnings and of course we have the employment number looming Friday, so with 1,500 (in the S&P stock index) right here, my guess is there is just not enough conviction to push us substantially higher yet."

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 19.58 points, or 0.14 percent, at 13,930.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.81 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,502.77. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 8.46 points, or 0.27 percent, at 3,150.76.

A drop in German retail sales, stagnant French consumer spending and a huge quarterly loss at Deutsche Bank dashed hopes of a quick rebound for European shares, which had their biggest daily fall of the year on Wednesday after surging 3.7 percent this month.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 was down 0.1 percent, and the MSCI world index was up 0.1 percent.

Caution after the German data also put the euro under pressure and halted its recent rise against the dollar although the single currency was headed for its best month in 15 months against the dollar on Thursday, as signs of recovery in the euro zone's economy and its banks set the common currency on a bullish trend.

Renewed selling left it at $1.3572, short of Wednesday's 14-month high. The Federal Reserve's promise of continued support was widely expected to mitigate the fall, however, by keeping downward pressure on the dollar.

Risky assets such as equities, commodities, and high-yield debt have risen sharply in the past six months as growth in emerging economies such as China's has picked up and fears of a collapse of the euro have been calmed by the European Central Bank.

Spot gold drifted down to $1,666.30 an ounce, having hit a one-week high on Wednesday, while oil prices inched down 18 cents to just under $115 per barrel, still well above their starting price this year of $110 a barrel.

U.S. light sweet crude oil fell 66 cents, or 0.67 percent, to $97.28 per barrel.

(Reporting by Nick Olivari; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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