* HP rises after results, Deere shares fall
* Jobless claims above 300,000 for first time since Sept
* Markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving holiday
* Dow, S&P 500 both flat, Nasdaq rises 0.2 pct (Updates to open, adds economic data)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Nov 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat on Wednesday as the market’s recent upward bias held ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, even as a round of economic data came in below expectations.
Trading was light, with some market participants already out for Thanksgiving. The stock market will be closed on Thursday and will close early on Friday. The thin action could amplify swings, especially with the Dow and S&P having hit a string of records recently.
Market moves have been slight of late, though indexes have trended to the upside. The S&P was up in 13 of the past 16 sessions.
In the latest data, jobless claims unexpectedly rose in the latest week, topping 300,000 for the first time since early September, while new orders for U.S.-made capital goods fell for a second straight month in October.
A barometer of business activity in the U.S. Midwest declined more than expected in November. Consumer sentiment rose to its highest level in more than seven years, but was down slightly from a preliminary reading.
“This isn’t enough to derail the rally we’ve been on, because while markets are fairly valued, when you consider the alternatives equities are still the best asset,” said Matthew Keator, partner in the Keator Group, a wealth management firm in Lenox, Massachusetts.
The PHLX Housing index fell 0.4 percent after data showed pending home sales unexpectedly fell in October, though new home sales were higher. Homebuilder D.R. Horton Inc fell 0.7 percent to $25.29.
Deere & Co was one of the day’s biggest decliners, off 3.6 percent to $84.70, after forecasting a drop in equipment sales in the current quarter, hurt by lower corn prices and falling farm incomes.
Hewlett-Packard Co rose 1.6 percent to $38.23 a day after fourth-quarter results.
At 10:00 a.m. (1500 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average fell 7.22 points, or 0.04 percent, to 17,807.72, the S&P 500 gained 0.73 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,067.76 and the Nasdaq Composite added 7.02 points, or 0.15 percent, to 4,765.27.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE 1,415 to 1,316, for a 1.08-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 1,233 issues rose and 1,013 fell for a 1.22-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 was posting 40 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 57 new highs and 17 new lows. (Editing by Nick Zieminski)