Stocks Close Mixed; Apple Puts Dent in Nasdaq

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"We've seen lots of talk about how over-extended the market is here and how 'bullish' everyone has become all of a sudden," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's. "My only take on this is we saw some similar scenarios last year around this time, yet the market continued to grind higher for several months. Could we be seeing a repeat of that? I wouldn't bet against it."

The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that initial jobless claims fell by 5,000 in the week ended Jan. 19 to 330,000, down from the previous week's unrevised figure of 335,000. Economists were expecting an increase to 355,000. The four-week moving average was 351,750, a decrease of 8,250 from the previous week's average of 360,000.

Continuing claims for the week ended Jan. 12 fell by 71,000 to 3.157 million, down from the prior week's upwardly revised level of 3.228 million.

"Claims data can be especially volatile around this time of year, reflecting huge swings in seasonal patterns," noted Maury Harris, an economist at UBS.

The Conference Board's leading economic index for the U.S. showed a rise of 0.5% in December to 93.9, following an upwardly revised flat read for November, and a 0.3% increase in October. A rebound of 0.3% was expected for December.

Economists at the Conference Board said the index's rise suggests a likely pickup in domestic growth as the improving housing market helps improve consumer balance sheets and strengthen consumption.

However, for growth to gain more traction, the economists said they need to see better performance on new orders and an acceleration in capital spending.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng finished down by 0.15% even after better-than-expected China manufacturing data as China shares sold off on profit-taking and Apple suppliers took a hit after the tech giant's downbeat report.

The Nikkei in Japan rose 1.28% as exporters advanced thanks to a weaker yen.

The FTSE in London settled ahead by 1.09% as mining stocks gained after the China data. The DAX in Frankfurt closed up 0.53% after Markit Economics' flash Germany PMI report showed that the leading European economy began the year with a resurgence in private sector output.

Gold for February delivery fell $16.80 to finish at $1,669.90 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while March crude oil futures were up 72 cents to close at $95.95 a barrel.

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The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 7/32, to raise the yield to 1.853%. The dollar was up 0.03%, according to the U.S. dollar index.

In corporate news, Netflix(NFLX) gained 2 million video-streaming subscribers in the U.S. during the fourth quarter, and posted a profit of $8 million during a period when analysts were expecting a loss. Shares soared 42.2%.