US STOCKS-Wall St advances modestly, holds below record highs
* Initial claims rise, but still near 7-year low
* Existing home sales up, shy of expectations
* Best Buy rises after results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.13 pct, S&P 0.37 pct, Nasdaq 0.68 pct (Adds existing home sales, comments, updates trading to midday)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks advanced modestly on Thursday after the latest batch of mixed data failed to deliver the confidence boost needed by investors to push indexes past record highs set last week.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose in the week ended May 17 and were above expectations but remained near 7-year lows, pointing to labor market conditions that continued to strengthen. U.S. home resales rose in April and the supply of properties on the market hit its highest since August 2012, hopeful signs for the stalled housing market recovery.
The S&P 500 is less than 0.5 percent shy of its record intraday high set on May 13, but has been caught between the high and its 50-day moving average for the past week as data left investors unsure about the pace of the economic recovery.
"We have been in a 'two steps forward, one step back' progression on the domestic economy and that can be extended to the global economy as well," said Jim Russell, senior investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati. Continuación...