Stocks retreated Thursday after an early pop following a report that showed jobless claims fell last week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down about 10 points. This came after the blue-chip index eked out a gain in the previous session, snapping a four-session losing streak.
Industrials led the advance, with Alcoa , Boeing and Caterpillar at the front of the Dow pack.
Consumer staples were among the weakest links, with Walmart, Kraft and P&G at the back of the Dow pack.
First-time applications for unemployment benefits fell by 31,000 last week to to 473,000. This came after claims popped above 500,000 for the first time since November in the prior week. Economists were expecting a smaller drop of 490,000, on average.
But the four-week average ticked higher, suggesting the labor market remains weak.
Mortgage rates continue to fall: The average on 30-year fixed dropped to 4.36 percent last week, Freddie Mac reported.
Later, the market will be looking to see the results of the Treasury's $29 billion auction of 7-year notes, following record-low yields in Wednesday's sale of 5-year notes. The results of the auction will be available shortly after 1 pm.
And central bankers will gather in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later today for the Fed's annual symposium on the economy. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to speak Friday, though he isn't expected offer much in the way of clues on the Fed's next move.
Dell rose after the computer giant sweetened its bid for 3Par , trumping a counteroffer from Hewlett-Packard . HP also rose, while 3Par fell.
Meanwhile Potash still only has a bid from BHP Billiton despite its active solicitation of alternate offers.
In other news, Officials in India are holding meetings over security officials involving Research In Motion and its BlackBerry device, and developments from those meetings could move the stock today.
In earnings news, shares of JDS Uniphase fell following the company's fourth-quarter report Wednesday. Also after the bell, TiVo reported a smaller-than-expected loss, and Guess met profit estimates but saw its shares fall after delivering a conservative forecast for the current quarter.
Still to Come:
THURSDAY: 7-year Treasury note auction
FRIDAY: GDP, corporate profits, consumer sentiment; Earnings from Tiffany
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