Stocks traded mixed after further evidence the U.S. economy has hit a soft patch, and amid continuing concerns about whether Greece will be able to restructure its debt.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 30 points after snapping a three-day losing streakwith a modest rise on Wednesday.
Most Dow components slumped, led by Merck , but Microsoft gained in the wake of reports that David Einhorn, the hedge fund mangaer, is calling for CEO Steve Ballmer to resign.
TheS&P 500 fell slightly, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose slightly. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, rose above 17.
Among key S&P 500 sectors, health care and utilities fell, while technology rose.
News on the economic fronton Thursday pointed to continued economic weakness in the U.S. Investors had hoped initial claims for unemployment would fall, indicating the jobs market was picking up, but claims rose, and the second reading of first quarter economic growth didn't improve as expected. GDP remained at a sluggish 1.8 percent.
The economic headwinds, combined with the uncertainty surrounding how the economy will repond to the end of the Federal Reserve's bond buying program, could send stocks tumbling more in the weeks ahead. While David Katz, senior portfolio strategist at Weiser Capital Management, doesn't expect the market to reflect recessionary levels, he does expect a downdraft. And that downdraft will present buying opportunities, Katz said.
"Cash that's on the sideline waiting for the next dip will be put to work" he said.
Most of Weiser Capital Management's clients have 5 to 20-percent cash at any point, Katz said. The firm was buying bigger tranches when the market tumbled in late 2008 through 2009, and they are "taking much smaller chunks now," he said. "I think we will have an opportunity to take healtheir bites in the coming quarters."