Stocks Hold Gains After Jobless Claims Dip

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NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished with modest gains Wednesday, taking their cue from a dip in weekly initial jobless claims and improvement in domestic manufacturing data.

Investors shrugged off the latest hiccup in the eurozone as talks between Greece and its lenders about the release of additional bailout funds once again hit an impasse .

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose more than 48 points, or 0.38%, to close at 12,837. The blue-chip index has bounced nearly 2% so far this week.

Gainers were well ahead of losers within the Dow, 24 to 6. The top percentage advancers were Hewlett-Packard(HPQ) , Bank of America (BAC) , and Microsoft(MSFT) .

HP shares caught a bounce, rising nearly 2%, following Tuesday's huge drop after the PC giant reported a fiscal fourth-quarter loss amid big accounting problems connected to its acquisition of Autonomy.

Price targets on Hewlett-Packard were cut by Jefferies, RBC and Credit Suisse after company's report.

Dow decliners included du Pont (DD) , Intel(INTC) , and Caterpillar(CAT) .

The S&P 500 rose more than 3 points, or 0.23%, to settle at 1391, while the Nasdaq tacked on nearly 10 points, or 0.34%, at 2927.

The majority of sectors in the broad market closed in the green, led by the consumer cyclicals, technology and services sectors. Only utilities were finished in the red.

Advancers were ahead of decliners by a ratio of 2.1-to-1 on the Big Board and 1.8-to-1 on the Nasdaq. Trading was light ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday with volume totaling 2.65 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.42 billion on the Nasdaq.

Eurozone finance ministers, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank failed at their meeting this week to reach a consensus on how Greece could achieve debt sustainability and a lowering of the financing gap of €14 billion through 2014; they were aiming for an agreement to be reached before unlocking additional financial aid for Greece.

Talks are scheduled to reconvene on Monday.

"It's important to remember that the ultimate goal of these negotiations is to reduce the debt burden to somewhere around 120% of GDP," said Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. "That is a terribly high number and the math used to get Greece to that debt level is ambitious despite the considerable progress that Greece has made over the last several years."

"Ultimately, we like many others see no way Greece can return to debt sustainability without further write downs of outstanding debt, including obligations in the hands of the public sector," he added.

Meantime, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims for the week ended Nov. 17 fell 41,000 to an as-expected 410,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 451,000.