NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks were little changed on Thursday as a flurry of merger deals and better-than-expected jobs data offset signs of economic weakness in Europe and Japan
Shares of H.J. Heinz Co
Also supporting the market was data showing the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected in the latest week.
Stocks fell earlier after a report the euro zone's gross domestic product contracted by the steepest amount since the first quarter of 2009. In addition, Japan's GDP shrank 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter, crushing expectations of a modest return to growth.
"The only reason a company buys another company is because they see an upside. Even though we are at multiyear highs, this kind of activity shows that there is more room for a rally, feeding optimism to the market," said Randy Frederick, director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.
But Frederick added the market would have to see small corrections before breaking above current levels, where indexes have been hovering for almost two weeks. The S&P 500 is up more than 6 percent so far this year, near its highest level since November 2007.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> was down 13.75 points, or 0.10 percent, at 13,969.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> was down 0.45 point, or 0.03 percent, at 1,519.88. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.ixic> was down 1.35 points, or 0.04 percent, at 3,195.53.
American Airlines and US Airways Group
Weakness in Europe contributed to a 5 percent drop in revenue from the region for Cisco Systems
General Motors Co
(Reporting By Angela Moon; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Kenneth Barry)