U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday as gains in technology shares tempered lackluster jobless data that underscored the difficulties facing the labor market.
The number of workers filing new applications for jobless benefits fell only slightly last week, while those continuing to get benefits rose unexpectedly, the government said.
Boosted by big-cap technology, the Nasdaq fared better than the other two major indexes. German software company SAP AG said it would buy smaller U.S. rival Sybase Inc for $5.8 billion. Sybase jumped 14.7 percent to $64.40.
The thing everyone is focusing on is tech, which kind of shows that corporate spending is picking up, said Thomas Nyheim, vice president and portfolio manager at Christiana Bank & Trust Co in Greenville, Delaware.
Cisco Systems Inc capped gains in tech, falling 3.5 percent to $25.81 after its chief executive expressed caution about the economy, even as quarterly results beat expectations.
Cisco is probably seeing a recovery, but they're going to be a little cautious and make sure that all the spending is in the pipeline, said Nyheim.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> inched up 0.83 points, or 0.01 percent, at 10,897.74. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> dipped 0.65 points, or 0.06 percent, to 1,171.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 5.58 points, or 0.23 percent, to 2,430.60.
The energy sector led the way down as U.S. crude oil futures fell 2 percent. Chevron Corp gave up nearly 1 percent at $79.35.
On the upside, Whole Foods Market Inc jumped 6.5 percent at $42.88, boosting consumer stocks after its quarterly profit topped estimates and it raised its full-year forecasts.
Trading was choppy in morning action, with the number of declining stocks slightly ahead of advancers.
(Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)