--Stocks mostly higher as investors balance disappointing U.S. data, Spain rescue-loan report
--Private-sector jobs, weekly jobless claims miss views
--IMF reported to be discussing possible contingency plan for Spain
By Matt Jarzemsky
Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- Stocks traded higher Thursday as investors weighed downbeat U.S. labor data and reports of a potential rescue plan for Spain.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 69 points, or 0.6%, to 12488 in late-afternoon trading. Stocks recovered from a morning slump that sent the Dow down as much as 103 points, but the average remained on pace to post its biggest percentage decline for a month since September.
The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index rose 6 points, or 0.4%, to 1319. Telecommunications and financial stocks led advances. The Nasdaq Composite added 4 points, or 0.1%, to 2841.
The International Monetary Fund has started discussing contingency plans for a rescue loan to Spain in the event the country fails to find the funds needed to bail out Bankia SA, Dow Jones Newswires reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The report eased concerns about the fallout from troubles at Spain's third-largest bank by assets, fueling a midday recovery in U.S. stocks.
Spanish officials later dismissed the report.
"The subsequent release of the IMF story on the Spanish contingency plan fueled the up move" as pressure on stocks eased with the close of European markets, said Tom Donino, co-head of trading at First New York Securities.
The report followed downbeat data on the domestic job market. The U.S. economy added fewer-than-expected private-sector jobs in May, according to a report by Automatic Data Processing and consultant Macroeconomic Advisers. Also, the number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, the Labor Department reported.
Meanwhile, a reading on manufacturing activity in the Chicago region fell more than economists expected, to the lowest level since September 2009.
"It's just an awful close to an awful month," said Mark Lehmann, president of JMP Securities. "You just got more of the same, unfortunately, which is softer data, soft markets, commodities weaker."
Also Thursday, the Commerce Department lowered its estimate for first-quarter U.S. economic growth to 1.9% from 2.2%, in line with economists' expectation that the U.S. economy slowed more than initially thought during the period. The price index for personal consumption increased 2.4%, as previously estimated.
The downbeat data come on the eve of the government's employment report Friday, which has fallen short of expectations in the past two months.
In Europe, Germany's jobless rate fell to 6.7% in May, the lowest level since comparable records began in 1998, and better than economists' prediction for a 6.8% rate. Meanwhile, German retail sales rose more than expected in April.
In addition, the inflation rate for the euro zone slowed to 2.4% in May from 2.6% in April, less than expectations of 2.5%. Slowing inflation gave hope that the European Central Bank would be more willing to provide additional stimulus measures.
European markets fell, erasing earlier gains after the downbeat U.S. data. The Stoxx Europe 600 slid 0.3% after slumping 1.5% on Wednesday.
Asian markets fell on the back of U.S. stock-market declines Wednesday and disappointing Japanese industrial-production data. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 1% and China's Shanghai Composite declined 0.5%.
Facebook edged up 0.4%, remaining well below its $38 initial-public-offering price.
Joy Global skidded 4.8% as the mining-equipment maker lowered its full-year projections on a slowing international market.
Ciena rallied 13% after the network-gear maker reported a fiscal second-quarter adjusted profit, compared with analyst expectations of a slight loss, and revenue that topped forecasts.
F5 Networks, a supplier of gear for managing Internet traffic, slid 4.2% as its sales chief resigned.
TiVo sagged 5.1% after the maker of digital-television recorders posted a bigger-than-expected quarterly loss and gave a downbeat outlook.
-By Matt Jarzemsky, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2240; firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 31, 2012 16:10 ET (20:10 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.