Stocks ended near the session's highs on Thursday, with investors favoring shares of retailers after encouraging chain-store sales raised confidence ahead of Friday's jobs report.

Based on the latest available data, the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 20.21 points, or 0.17 percent, at 12,062.18. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was up 3.07 points, or 0.24 percent, at 1,307.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 4.32 points, or 0.16 percent, at 2,753.88.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)