U.S. stocks rose slightly on Thursday on gains by some retail stores and stronger job sector data, but declines in chipmakers eased the market off its highs.

Sales at retail stores open at least a year rose 3.1 percent last month, according to company reports. Department store operator JC Penney Co rose 6 percent and teen apparel retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co jumped 7 percent.

New claims for state jobless benefits fell last week to their lowest level in two months, the Labor Department said.

But semiconductor shares dropped after posting their best day in weeks. Micron Technology fell 3.5 percent to $8.58 and the PHLX semiconductor index <.SOXX> fell 1.6 percent after rising more than 5 percent on Wednesday.

Retail sales were not great but were good. Then you get new claims falling, so you just break a three-week stretch where every piece of data was worse than expected, said John Canally, investment strategist at LPL Financial in Boston.

But chipmakers are very sensitive to U.S. consumer demand, so you may be seeing some reaction to sales not being great.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> rose 48.81 points, or 0.49 percent, to 10,067.09. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> gained 2.70 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,062.97. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> dipped 0.31 point, or 0.01 percent, to 2,159.16.

Even though sales increased, retailers relied heavily on promotions to win over cautious consumers in June. Some chains' results disappointed, including Gap , which fell 7.6 percent to $18.27.

J.C. Penney rose to $23.06 while Abercrombie & Fitch rose to $35.14.

Financial stocks were lower on talk about stress tests in Europe and concerns about U.S. regulatory reform, according to Canally.

JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 1.2 percent to $37.68, giving up some of the 5 percent rise posted on Wednesday. The KBW bank index <.BKX> fell 0.3 percent.

Shares of H&R Block Inc fell as much as 13 percent to their year low a day after the chief executive of the largest U.S. tax preparer resigned. Its shares last traded 7.4 percent lower at $14.35.

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 department said.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Kenneth Barry)