U.S. stocks closed slightly lower on Thursday as a trio of better-than-expected economic data wasn't enough to entice buying in a market sitting on strong gains just before the new year.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 15.59 points, or 0.13 percent, to 11,569.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dropped 1.85 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,257.93. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dropped 3.95 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,662.98.

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Leslie Adler)