Stocks slipped on Thursday as a strong start to the earnings season was countered by mixed economic data, sparking caution after a robust three-day run-up.

Investors also fretted over a possible bankruptcy filing at CIT Group Inc following concerns from U.S. Treasury officials about a worsening liquidity crunch at the 101-year-old company, which lends to retailers as well as many small and mid-sized U.S. businesses. CIT's stock plunged nearly 72 percent to 47 cents on the New York Stock Exchange.

On the earnings front, JPMorgan Chase & Co posted strong profits, but warned on deteriorating consumer credit. Its stock, a Dow component, fell 1.2 percent to $35.84, following its jump of 4.5 percent on Wednesday. The S&P financial index <.GSPF> slid 1.5 percent.

Adding to economic concerns, data showed factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region shrank for the 10th consecutive month in July, marking a worse-than-expected decline that raised questions about the speed of the economic recovery.

In other economic news, government data showed the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to their lowest level since January, but the seasonally adjusted data was again distorted by an unusual pattern of automotive industry layoffs that amplified the drop.

There's a lot of conflicting data here, and I think that the market is reflecting that, said Kim Caughey, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

She said uncertainty about CIT's future and its implications for the businesses it serves is a heavy weight on market sentiment.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 6.49 points, or 0.08 percent, to 8,609.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> shed 3.24 points, or 0.35 percent, to 929.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> edged down 0.65 of a point, or 0.04 percent, to 1,862.25.

(Editing by Jan Paschal)