The Dow and the S&P 500 rose modestly on Thursday on strong June sales at several retailers and stronger-than-expected jobs sector data, but losses in the technology sector eased the market off its highs.

Consumer staples companies <.GSPS> was the top sector, with Costco Wholesale rising 2 percent at $55.36 after healthy sales. The sector gained 1.2 percent.

Department store operator JC Penney Co shares rose 6 percent to $23.08 and teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co jumped 7.2 percent to $35.25.

But semiconductor shares dropped after posting their best one-day gain in weeks on Wednesday, with big technology stocks like Apple and Intel weighing on the broad market.

It's a nervous environment, and there is not a whole lot of confidence in the market for investors to jump in with both feet, said Scott Marcouiller, senior equity market strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors in St. Louis.

There is less subdued risk-taking today versus yesterday and that is causing more profit-taking in sectors that saw strong gains yesterday.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 51.54 points, or 0.51 percent, at 10,069.82. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 2.03 points, or 0.19 percent, at 1,062.30. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 1.51 points, or 0.07 percent, at 2,157.96.

Micron Technology fell 2.5 percent to $8.66 and the PHLX semiconductor index <.SOXX> slipped 2.3 percent after rising more than 5 percent on Wednesday.

Apple was down 0.8 percent at $256.66 and Intel fell 0.7 percent to $20.00.

Financial stocks were lower on talk about stress tests in Europe and concerns about U.S. regulatory reform, according to John Canally, investment strategist at LPL Financial in Boston.

JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 1.3 percent to $37.64, giving up some of the 5 percent rise posted on Wednesday. Goldman Sachs was also off 1.3 percent at $134.10.

The KBW bank index <.BKX> fell 0.9 percent.

Sales at stores open at least a year rose 3.1 percent for the month, according to company reports, just shy of the 3.2 percent increase that Wall Street predicted.

Even though sales increased, retailers relied heavily on promotions to win over cautious consumers in June.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 21,000 to a seasonally adjusted 454,000 in the week ended July 3, the lowest level since early May, the Labor Department said.

(Reporting by Angela Moon, Editing by Kenneth Barry)