Stocks dipped in choppy trade on Thursday as investors grappled with uncertainty in the euro zone, a raft of corporate earnings and economic data that painted a mixed picture of the domestic recovery.
Sparking an early selloff, Citi analysts said it is likely Moody's will place France's Aaa rating on review for possible downgrade by the autumn. That washed away a positive tone after a successful Spanish debt auction.
Better-than-expected earnings from Bank of America Corp
The market sailboat is just kind of fluttering in the wind right at the moment, said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Raising concerns about the economic outlook, new weekly claims for unemployment benefits were above expectations, and the prior week's number was revised upward, Labor Department data showed.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dropped 29.45 points, or 0.23 percent, at 13,003.30. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 3.48 points, or 0.25 percent, at 1,381.66. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> took off 1.70 points, or 0.06 percent, at 3,029.75.
Continuing what appeared to be a solid start to the earnings season and boosting the Nasdaq, eBay Inc
Of the 77 S&P 500 companies reporting through Thursday's opening bell, 81 percent beat estimates.
Bank of America Corp
Spain, the latest trouble spot in the euro zone debt crisis, sold 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of bonds in a successful auction, but yields rose.
The ECB's efforts to pump liquidity into the system has taken fears of a banking crisis off the table, but all the problems are still there for all these countries, said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
For U.S. investors, it's just going to be simmering on the back burner, maybe it comes to the front burner, and back and forth. It's still going to be a major issue and is not going to go away anytime soon.
Travelers Cos Inc
Verizon Communications Inc
According to Thomson Reuters data, 35 companies in the S&P 500 are due to report Thursday. Notables after the close include Microsoft Corp
A slew of economic data sent mixed signals to investors. The pace of factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region waned in April for the first time in five months, while a gauge of future U.S. economic activity rose in March to its highest level in nearly four years.
Meanwhile, home resales fell in March but the supply of properties on the market tightened as prices inched higher.
Biotechnology companies helped lift the Nasdaq, led by Human Genome Sciences Inc
Human Genome rejected an unsolicited $2.6 billion bid from long-time partner GlaxoSmithKline Plc
Gilead's combination of experimental hepatitis C drugs, developed with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co
U.S.-listed shares of Glaxo gained 0.9 percent to $46.79 and Bristol-Myers rose 1.6 percent to $34.11. The Nasdaq biotech index <.NBI> climbed 1.9 percent.
(Reporting By Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)