* S&P briefly climbs above record closing high
* BlackBerry reports quarterly profit; shares up
* Cyprus reopens banks under tight restrictions
* Indexes: Dow up 0.3 pct, S&P up 0.23 pct, Nasdaq 0.11 pct
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday, with the S&P 500 rising just above its record closing high, which has acted as a significant resistance point in recent weeks.
The S&P had been caught in a range, having traded within 10 points of the record closing high of 1,565.15 over the prior 13 sessions before successfully piercing that level on Thursday, while buyers moved in on signs of weakness to quickly eliminate any declines.
A close above the record level could signify more gains, although investors may tread lightly with government payroll data and corporate earnings season on the horizon.
“A close at a high is good for investor confidence. It may attract a little bit of near term activity,” said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
“We are still trying to climb a grudging wall of worry regarding economic momentum and that means we are not going to sprint ahead as we take off into April.”
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 43.12 points, or 0.30 percent, to 14,569.28. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 3.60 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,566.45. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 3.64 points, or 0.11 percent, to 3,260.16.
U.S. stocks were set to close out a strong quarter with the S&P 500 up 9.8 percent for the first three months of 2013. The Dow was up 11.2 percent and the Nasdaq up 8 percent. For the month, the S&P is up 3.4 percent, the Dow is up 3.7 percent and the Nasdaq is up 3.1 percent.
Thursday is the U.S. stock markets’ last trading day of the quarter due to the Good Friday holiday.
Data showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, but probably not enough to suggest a faltering in the labor market recovery. Other data showed the economy expanded more in the fourth quarter than was prevously estimated by the government.
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago business barometer showed the pace of business activity in the Midwest slowed in March as the new order rate tumbled.
In a positive sign, Cypriots lined up as banks reopened despite tight controls imposed on transactions. There was no sign of a run on deposits, as feared, after the government was forced to accept a stringent EU rescue package.
BlackBerry announced an unexpected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, driven by demand for its new touchscreen device which holds the key to a successful turnaround for the smartphone maker. U.S.-listed shares were up 3.6 percent at $15.09.
Chesapeake Energy Corp’s search for a new chief executive to replace Aubrey McClendon is likely to extend beyond an April 1 deadline, according to a person familiar with the situation. The stock shed 0.7 percent at $20.38.
Influential proxy advisory firm ISS threw its weight behind opponents of MetroPCS Communications Inc’s proposed merger with T-Mobile USA, saying the deal undervalued the company and shareholders should vote against it. MetroPCS shares were up 3.2 percent at $10.87.
JPMorgan Chase & Co shares slipped 0.6 percent to $47.50 as the top drag on the Dow after a federal judge said on Wednesday the bank must face a lawsuit by a pension plan that accused it of mismanaging its money by investing in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc notes before that bank filed for bankruptcy in 2008.