US stocks close with modest gains

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(Close): US shares closed with modest gains, but trading was light ahead of Thanksgiving, when the markets will be shut.

The Dow Jones closed up 12.81 at 17,827.75 while the S&P 500 was up 5.8 points at 2,072.83.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq index rose 29.07 points to 4,787.32.

Initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 313,000 last week, figures showed, the first time it has been above the 300,000 mark since September.

Figures from the Commerce Department showed orders for non-defence capital goods excluding aircraft, fell 1.3% in October - the second month in a row the measure has fallen.

Separate figures from the Commerce Department showed that consumer spending - a key factor behind US economic growth - rose 0.2% in October.

Among individual stocks, shares in farm equipment maker Deere fell 3.2% after it predicted that sales would fall in the current quarter.

Hewlett-Packard was up 4% after results late on Tuesday.