The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose on Thursday after JPMorgan posted better-than-expected earnings and amid a flurry of positive news on the technology front.

The Dow dipped as shares of oil companies pulled back from a rally starting in early March. Investors remained cautious as they braced for a raft of earnings and outlooks expected to shed light on how the battered sector will fare amid lower oil and gas prices.

The world's top cell phone maker Nokia said a drop in demand for its products was stabilizing, driving its shares up 9 percent in New York, while video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc said first-quarter results were better than expected and its stock rose 3 percent.

The tech sector has been one of the leaders, said Henry Smith, chief investment officer at Haverford Trust in Philadelphia.

Your more cyclical, economically sensitive areas have been leading the way and that gives us further confidence in making the claim the economy has bottomed, and that markets are looking for improvement in the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 9.00 points, or 0.11 percent, to 8,020.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 1.59 points, or 0.19 percent, to 853.65. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 14.41 points, or 0.89 percent, at 1,641.21.

Aside from JPMorgan Chase & Co healthy results, Regions Financial said it will post a first quarter profit. Regions' shares jumped 31 percent. The KBW Bank Index <.BKX> rose 1 percent.

Shares of credit card companies also took a beating following downbeat broker comments. American Express dropped 3.3 percent to $19.95 and its decline weighed on the Dow. Capital One dropped 1.3 percent to $17.10.

Adding to the gloom about the consumer's overextended state, General Growth Properties Inc , the second-largest U.S. mall owner, on Thursday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors, making it one of the biggest victims of the credit crisis yet.

A mixed batch of economic data also limited gains.

The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's survey of regional manufacturing showed a less drastic contraction, corroborating similar evidence from New York the previous day.

The housing sector also offered its share of disappointment. The Commerce Department said housing starts fell 10.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 510,000 units, the second lowest on record dating back to 1959.

(Additional reporting by Ellis Mnyandu; Editing by Jan Paschal)