Jobless claims came in at 298,000, beating the 315,000 forecast by economists.
The August Markit US Manufacturing PMI was 58.0, above the 55.7 consensus and an improvement from last month.
Existing home sales were 5.15 million in July, slightly exceeding the 5.02 million consensus, though June's figure saw a slight downward revision.
The August Philly Fed Index hit 28.0, well above the 19.7 consensus.
And finally, the Leading Economic Indicators Index rose 0.9% in July, above the +0.6% expected.
Overseas, the data was mixed. China's August HSBC Manufacturing PMI disappointed, as did the Eurozone's manufacturing and service PMI's.
Retail stocks were in focus today, with a number of names in the sector reporting earnings.
Sears Holding (SHLD) took a 7.2% hit, finishing at $33.38 after delivering a substantial second-quarter loss.
Children's Place (PLCE) fared much better, rallying 7.8% after beating analysts' revenue and earnings forecasts.
Deep discounter Dollar Tree (DLTR) missed on earnings and the stock fell 1.3% to $54.28.
Elsewhere in the space, Family Dollar Stores (FDO) rejected a $78.50 per share offer from Dollar General (DG) based on antitrust concerns. Family Dollar's board of directors expressed support for a merger with Dollar Tree (DLTR).
Retail as a whole underperformed on the day, with the SPDR S&P Retail (XRT) falling 0.2%.
The iShares NASDAQ Biotechnology Index ETF (IBB) fell 0.9%. However, it rose nearly 9% in a straight line from August 7, so some cooling off was in order.
Tech stocks had a solid day overall, led by bullish action in eBay (EBAY) and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ), which were up on deal speculation and earnings, respectively.
Bank stocks were notably strong. The KBW Bank Index (BKX) rose 1.5%. Bank of America (BAC) led the way up with a 4.1% gain.
Tomorrow's Financial Outlook
Traders will be intensely focused on Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech tomorrow at Jackson Hole. The consensus thinking is that Yellen will still lean towards the dovish side, which could partially explain the recent hard bounce in US equity markets.
The domestic economic calendar is empty, but we will see Canadian CPI and Retail Sales data for July.
The only big names reporting earnings are Foot Locker (FL) and Royal Bank of Canada (RY).
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