Stocks Struggle for Gains after Economic Data

U.S. stocks wavered at the start on Thursday as investors weighed a report on jobs and housing against continuing concerns about Greece’s debt. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately rose 27.09 points to 11,924.36. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added 2.49 points to 1,267.91. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.84 point to 2,632.30.

The Labor Department said on Thursday that initial claims for state unemployment insurance slipped 16,000 to 414,000, suggesting the jobs market was regaining some momentum after stumbling in May.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed housing starts rose 3.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000 units, retracing almost half of April’s steep decline. New building permits unexpectedly rebounded 8.7 percent to a 612,000-unit pace last month, the highest level since December.

Greece is likely to get enough money from the EU to survive through the summer, but its longer-term prospects were dark as investors watching the chaos in Athens braced for the country to eventually trigger the eurozone’s first debt default. While Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was preparing Thursday to reshuffle his government to get austerity measures through Parliament, a top EU official indicated that the country will likely get its next financial lifeline next month despite the turmoil that has gripped Athens this week.

Boeing Co. upped its forecast Thursday for aircraft demand over the next 20 years, saying airlines will need $4 trillion worth of new planes to meet a pickup in passenger numbers, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. Airlines will need 33,500 new jets from now through 2030, Boeing said in a statement.

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