US STOCKS-Data, retail buoy Wall St but resistance strong

* Costco, Macy’s sales strong, shares rise; Gap falls

* Jobless claims fall slightly more than expected

* Dow flat; S&P up 0.1 pct, Nasdaq up 0.3 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to morning)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, April 7 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks edged up in
choppy trading on Thursday, helped by jobless claims and
same-store sales data, but technical resistance to further
gains was strong.

The S&P 500 closed Wednesday above a key technical level
and its ability to hold above 1,333.58 will be tested at the
close. The level is double the cycle low hit in March 2009 and
is near a recent 2-1/2 year high of about 1,344, which could
become yet another technical hurdle.

“There is an extreme level of bullishness, so there is an
argument to make that the boat is already full,” said Peter
Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York.

“The market is dealing with a lot of uncertainty near the
highs; either we break through or we fail, and when you get
that situation we see this kind of hesitancy.”

New applications for unemployment benefits fell slightly
more than expected in the latest week, according to a
government report that pointed to firming labor market
conditions.

Consumer shares will stay in focus as sales reports show
March was not as bad as expected for U.S. retailers, suggesting
that shoppers largely ignored higher gasoline prices and other
concerns. For details see [ID:nN07294366].

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI: Quote, Profile, Research) edged down 1.78
points, or 0.01 percent, at 12,424.97. The Standard & Poor’s
500 Index (.SPX: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 1.84 points, or 0.14 percent, at
1,337.38. The Nasdaq Composite Index (.IXIC: Quote, Profile, Research) gained 9.45
points, or 0.34 percent, at 2,809.27.

Among retailers, Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O: Quote, Profile, Research) beat
expectations and its shares gained 3.4 percent to $77.55.
Macy’s Inc (M.N: Quote, Profile, Research) rose 2.3 percent to $25.77 while Gap Inc
(GPS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) fell 3.5 percent to $22.26.

Consumer spending is closely watched as it accounts for
roughly two-thirds of economic activity in the United States.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

US STOCKS-Data, retail buoy Wall St but resistance strong