U.S. stocks finished mixed in queasy trading ahead of tomorrow’s nonfarm payroll report from the government. Investors also pondered a rise in initial jobless claims and some weaker-than-expected December sales from some major retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 25.58 points, or 0.22 percent, to close at 11.697.31. The S&P 500 Index edged down 2.71 points, or 0.21 percent. NASDAQ, however, gained 7.69 points, or 0.28 percent, to 1273.85, buoyed by chipmaker Nvidia (Nasdaq: NVDA), which surged 13.84 percent after entering into a partnership with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT).

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose by 18,000 to more than 400,000 last week, raising some doubt about tomorrow’s employment report.

Target (NYSE: TGT) and The Gap (NYSE: GPS) sank 6.80 percent and 6.88 percent, respectively, on soft December sales.

The dollar rose against the pound sterling and euro.

Oil futures dropped 2.39 percent to just above $88 per barrel. Gold edged down slightly to close at $1371.40 per ounce.

Bonds rose, pushing the 10-year Treasury yield down to 3.42 percent.