* U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fall in December
* Initial jobless claims rise in latest week
* Intel up 1.2 pct ahead of results, boosts tech shares
* Dow up 0.1 pct, S&P up 0.01 pct, Nasdaq up 0.2 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news, click [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to late morning, changes byline)
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks traded flat to slightly higher on Thursday as upcoming earnings from Intel Corp spurred interest in technology shares, though gains were limited by an unexpected drop in December retail sales.
Large-cap technology shares led rising stocks, including Oracle Corp <ORCL.O, after positive broker comments from Morgan Stanley. Oracle was the Nasdaq’s biggest boost, up 2.2 percent at $25.30.
Dow component Intel Corp (INTC.O), expected to report quarterly results after the closing bell, gained 1.2 percent to $21.21. For a preview, see [ID:nN12118201]
But retail stocks were dented after data showed U.S. sales fell in December, the first decline in three months and a surprising dip during the holiday shopping season. Sales rose an upwardly adjusted 1.8 percent in November, the U.S. Commerce Department said. For details, see [ID:nN13117317]
“This is an indication that investors see business spending, not consumer spending, to fuel further growth to bring us out of this. This is why we are seeing shares like Intel, IBM and Cisco leading the gains today,” said Burt White, managing director and chief investment officer at LPL Financial in Boston.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) was among the Dow’s biggest drags, off 0.9 percent to $54.53.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI added 14.06 points, or 0.13 percent, to 10,694.83. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index .SPX edged up 0.16 points, or 0.01 percent, at 1,145.84. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC gained 3.46 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,311.36.
U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a fee to make big banks and other financial institutions repay taxpayer funds that helped bail them out during the financial crisis.
The KBW bank index .BKX was up 0.6 percent, while major banks were mixed. Goldman Sachs Group (GS.N) fell 0.7 percent to $167.99, while Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) gained 0.4 percent to $16.70. [ID:nN14190937]
Resource shares weighed as the price of oil eased. Chevron (CVX.N) lost 0.6 percent to $79.33.
Morgan Stanley added Oracle to its “best ideas” list, citing the imminent closure of the Sun Microsystems Inc JAVA.O acquisition, a return to organic growth in Oracle’s core business as early as the third quarter and positive revisions. The firm raised its price target on Oracle to $31 from $29.
Other data Thursday showed the number of U.S. workers filing for first-time jobless claims climbed more than expected last week, but a measure of underlying trends moved steadily lower in a sign that labor markets are slowly improving. [ID:nN14170396] (Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)