U.S. stocks turned negative on Thursday, pulled lower by energy shares as the price of oil fell nearly $1 to $79.94 a barrel.

Also weighing was data that showed a surprise drop in January pending homes sales. Stocks had gained earlier in the session on better-than-expected February retail sales and a drop in initial jobless claims last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dipped 4.61 points, or 0.04 percent, to 10,392.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was off 1.93 points, or 0.17 percent, to 1,116.86. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> lost 6.44 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,274.24. (Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)