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Markets stall despite encouraging news

NEW YORK - Encouraging news on the U.S. economy wasn't enough to give the stock market its fourth straight day of gains.

NEW YORK - Encouraging news on the U.S. economy wasn't enough to give the stock market its fourth straight day of gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21.97 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,558.87, one day after closing at an all-time high. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.27 points, or less than 0.01 percent, to 1,883.68. The Nasdaq composite rose 12.90 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,127.45.

Manufacturing grew faster in April than in March as exports picked up and factories accelerated hiring. U.S. shoppers ramped up their spending in March at the fastest pace in 41/2 years, and construction spending also ticked higher.

The reports, coming a day after the Commerce Department said U.S. growth had stalled in the January-March quarter, suggested that the economy is gaining momentum after the unusually harsh winter.

But investors, uncertain which way the economy is headed, seemed reluctant to push stocks higher.

"The data were good, but not robust enough to completely eliminate doubts over whether the first quarter was entirely weather-related," said Anthony Valeri, an investment strategist for LPL Financial.

Investors' reaction to the economic reports also likely was muted ahead of Friday's April jobs report, Valeri said. Economists are predicting that U.S. employers added 210,000 jobs last month, and that the unemployment rate dipped to 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent.

On Thursday, stocks moved between small gains and losses for most of the day as investors also assessed the latest round of company earnings and reports of a potential deal.

Dish Network climbed $3.35, or 5.9 percent, to $60.21 after the Wall Street Journal reported AT&T had approached the satellite TV provider about a possible acquisition. A deal would likely be worth about $40 billion, the Journal reported.

Avon Products slumped $1.56, or 10.2 percent, to $13.72, after it reported that its first-quarter loss widened, stung by volatile currency moves in Venezuela and weak revenue across all regions.

MasterCard rose 67 cents, or 0.9 percent, to $74.22 after the company reported that its net income climbed 14 percent in the first quarter.

Yelp rose $5.70, or 9.8 percent, to $64.02 after the company said late Wednesday that its first-quarter loss narrowed as more local businesses signed up for the online review site's services.

Treasury prices rose. The yield on the 10-year note fell to 2.61 percent from 2.65 percent, and is close to its lowest level of the year.