NEW YORK – U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday as a strong profit forecast from United Parcel Service Inc propelled transportation shares, offsetting worries that debt-plagued Greece was ready to use an emergency bailout package.
Economic bellwether UPS (UPS.N) climbed 6.1 percent to $69.49 after the package delivery company said first-quarter earnings would be much higher than expected and raised its full-year outlook.
"The underpinning for our move higher is in place, meaning earnings season has begun. It has been solidly positive, with expectations being met and beat and guidance higher," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"With that as the backdrop, the headwinds we face are Greece, fear of overextension on the run up and this ongoing sense that we have to pull back."
The International Monetary Fund said it is sending a team to Athens for talks about possible IMF assistance under a multi-year program. The euro dropped broadly as concerns about Greece's debt woes resurfaced.
The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) added 7.63 points, or 0.07 percent, to 11,130.74. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) rose 2.74 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,213.39. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC) gained 11.08 points, or 0.44 percent, to 2,515.94.
The Dow Jones Transportation index (.DJT) rose 2.3 percent, powered by UPS. Rival FedEx Corp (FDX.N) was up 3.2 percent to $96.97.
Fellow transport component J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc (JBHT.O) climbed nearly 4 percent to $38.50 after posting better-than-expected results.
New U.S. jobless claims soared unexpectedly last week due to applications delayed by the Easter holiday, but a gauge of manufacturing in New York state rose to a six-month high in April.
Factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region grew in April to its highest level since December 2009, the Philadelphia Federal Reserve Bank said.
After the closing bell, earnings are due from Google Inc (GOOG.O), Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.N) and People's United Financial Inc (PBCT.O).