US stocks end mostly higher in pre-holiday session

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished mostly higher on Wednesday following a stream of US data ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday and the kickoff of the holiday shopping season.

Analysts at described a "sleepy" session with stocks keeping to a fairly tight range following a succession of US economic releases, including figures from the Commerce Department that showed consumer spending rose just 0.1 per cent in October.

Other data showed jobless claims edging lower, durable goods orders rising and new-home sales gaining.

Wednesday's data was consistent with about a two percent rise in US growth in the fourth quarter, said FTN Financial chief economist Chris Low.

That will probably be enough to allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates "as long as next Friday's employment report is not a disaster," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 1.20 points (0.01 per cent) to 17,813.39, while the broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.27 (0.01 per cent) to 2,088.87.

The biggest move was in the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index, which gained 13.33 (0.26 per cent) at 5,116.14.

"The data was cheered, but I think there's a little bit of trepidation ahead of Thanksgiving," said Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management.

US markets will be closed Thursday and shutter early on Friday.

Dow Chemical dropped 2.7 per cent after US environmental regulators withdrew approval for Dow's Enlist Duo herbicide due to concerns about its impact on surrounding plants.

Farm-equipment maker Deere climbed 4.8 per cent despite reporting lower earnings and forecasting a 7 per cent drop in equipment sales in 2016.

Deere said its outlook "represents a level of performance that is considerably better than we have experienced in previous downturns."

HP plunged 13.7 per cent after forecasting earnings of 33-38 cents per share in the fiscal first quarter of 2016, below the 42 cents projected by analysts.

Tesla Motors rose 5.2 per cent following a Credit Suisse report that said the company should meet its fourth-quarter car delivery targets and that its earnings outlook looked solid for 2016.