Stock indexes gave up early losses and edged higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve reported encouraging news on the economy. Manufacturing, consumer spending and corporate hiring increased in all 12 regions surveyed by the central bank.
Hans Olsen, chief investment officer at J.P. Morgan Private Wealth Management, said it was a good sign that the Fed's regional economic report showed that more people were quitting their jobs.
"That only happens if people are starting to feel more confident about their job prospects," Olsen said.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.25 point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,314.41. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 7.41, or 0.1 percent, to 12,270.99. The Nasdaq composite gained 16.73, or 0.6 percent, to 2,761.52.
Financial stocks fell broadly after the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase said the bank's losses from mortgages will continue.
JPMorgan Chase & Co., the first big bank to release first-quarter earnings, reported net income that beat expectations. The company's investment banking and credit card businesses did well, but its mortgage business remained weak. Chief executive Jamie Dimon said JPMorgan and other banks will likely pay more fees and penalties after investigations into foreclosure proceedings in all 50 states are finished.
JPMorgan lost 0.8 percent, Bank of America Corp. fell 1.5 percent and Wells Fargo & Co. lost 2.3 percent.
Stocks had risen in early trading after the government reported that retail sales rose 0.4 percent overall in March, though much of the gain was due to higher gas prices. It was the ninth straight month of increases.
President Obama outlined a proposal to cut the nation's budget deficit by reducing spending on defense and the growth of Medicare spending, while raising taxes on high-earning Americans and cutting many tax loopholes.
Silgan Holdings Inc., a consumer packaging maker, jumped 19 percent after announcing that it had agreed to buy rival Graham Packaging Co. in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $1.28 billion. Graham jumped 33 percent.
iRobot Corp., the maker of the Roomba vacuum cleaning robot, jumped 13 percent after saying it had signed a $230 million contract with the U.S. Navy to develop small robotic vehicles.
Rising and falling shares were roughly even on the New York Stock Exchange. Consolidated volume came to 3.9 billion shares.