US STOCKS-Wall St posts modest gains after mixed data
* Initial claims rise, but still near 7-yr low
* Existing home sales shy of expectations
* Best Buy rebounds from early declines after results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.03 pct, S&P 0.12 pct, Nasdaq 0.23 pct (Updates to market open, adds existing home sales, quote)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were modestly higher on Thursday after the latest batch of mixed data gave investors little reason to push indexes past record highs.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose 28,000 to 326,000 in the week ended May 17, above the 310,000 forecast but close to a seven-year low, pointing to ongoing healing in the labor market.
Existing home sales increased 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 4.65 million units, slightly below the 4.68-million unit estimate. But the second increase in sales in nine months suggested the housing market may be steadying.
The S&P 500 is roughly 0.5 percent shy of its record intraday high set on May 13, but investors have been reluctant to push equities higher as economic data has cast doubt on the pace of the economic recovery. Continuación...