A look at the day's business news headlines:
Stocks stall ahead of December jobs report
U.S. stocks ended mixed Thursday afternoon, as the dollar strengthened and investors mulled a rise in jobless claims and softer-than-expected same-store retail sales ahead of the December jobs report due Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 26 points, or 0.2%, with shares of Verizon, Travelers Companies, and AT&T leading the decline. Meanwhile Microsoft, Boeing, and Hewlett Packard posted the biggest gains.
The S&P 500 fell 3 points, or 0.2%, as weak retail sales weighed on the broad index. Gap and Target were among the biggest losers.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 8 points, or 0.3%, led by a 13.8% jump in shares of chipmaker Nvidia.
Stocks have trended upward this week, as positive economic reports have buoyed investor confidence about the recovery. Wednesday's strong report on private sector payrolls from ADP helped push the Dow to a fresh two-year high for the third day in a row.
Treasuries rise after initial claims disappoint
Investors flocked to safe-haven Treasury bonds, after a report on jobless claims came in weaker than expected.
The government's report on weekly unemployment claims slightly toned down investors' optimism about the jobs picture, driving stocks down and bonds up Thursday.
The price on the benchmark 10-year note rose Thursday, sending its yield down to 3.42%, after closing at 3.47% on Wednesday. Prices and yields move in opposite directions.
Yields for the 30-year Treasury bond dropped to 4.52%, while the 5-year note slid to 2.08% and the 2-year note fell to 0.69%.
Bond traders are looking ahead to Friday's jobs report, which is expected to show employers added 150,000 people to their payrolls in December – a major improvement over the 39,000 added the month before.
– CNNMoney.com reporters Annalyn Censky, Blake Ellis and Hibah Yousuf contributed to this report.