* Investors focus on congressional-White House battles ahead
* S&P Energy index rises
* Retail stocks mixed after sales reports
* Positive jobs data has little impact
* Stocks up: Dow 0.05 pct, S&P 0.1 pct, Nasdaq 0.2 pct
By Gabriel Debenedetti
NEW YORK, Jan 3 U.S. stocks edged up on
Thursday, adding to Wall Street's biggest single-day rally in a
year on Wednesday after a deal in Washington to avert the
Investors were more wary than in the previous sessions as
they turned their focus to upcoming battles in Congress,
including likely bitter fights over spending cuts and raising
the federal debt ceiling.
"I would be cautious of big moves going forward. There are
still some clouds over the horizon, with the fiscal issue of the
government. We don't know how they're going to pan out, but in
all likelihood there's not going to be a calamity," said Jeff
Meyerson, head of trading at Sunrise Securities in New York.
Wednesday's rally began 2013 with Wall Street's best
performance in over a year after the House of Representatives
passed a measure to avert the fiscal cliff, which could have
caused a recession.
The S&P Energy index rose the most of the major
sector indexes, at 0.52 percent, led in part by CONSOL Energy
, which said it expects to sell more non-core assrets in
2013. CONSOL was up 3.5 percent to $32.09.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 6.30 points,
or 0.05 percent, at 13,418.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 2.05 points, or 0.14 percent, at 1,464.47. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.12 points, or 0.16
percent, at 3,117.39.
Retailers were mixed on Thursday after releasing December
sales reports in an uncertain economy.
Shares in U.S. retailer Costco Wholesale Corp rose
1.4 percent to $102.88 after the company reported a
better-than-expected 9 percent rise in December sales at stores
open at least a year, primarily boosted by an additional sales
day in the reporting period.
Gap Inc stock rose nearly 2 percent to $31.99
following news that the retailer will buy women's fashion
boutique Intermix Inc for $130 million to enter the luxury
clothes market, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Family Dollar Stores Inc stock dropped 11.7 percent
to $56.52 on the company's report of lower-than-expected
quarterly profit as its emphasis on selling more everyday items
like cigarettes and soft drinks put pressure on margins.
Hiring data did not boost equity prices despite showing U.S.
private employers added more jobs than expected in December.
"The report now sets the stage, as we expect a strong
non-farm payroll reading on Friday," said Andrew Wilkinson,
chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak & Co in New York
The government's broader monthly payrolls report, due on
Friday, is expected to show the economy created 150,000 jobs
compared with 146,000 in November, according to a Reuters poll.
The U.S. unemployment rate is seen holding steady at 7.7
Another report on Thursday showed that the number of
Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last
week, but year-end holidays likely distorted the picture of
labor market conditions.