Stocks slipped on Thursday as details remained murky of a deal to provide financial aid to debt-laden Greece, but declines were offset by a tumble in first-time claims for jobless benefits.

Concern over the debt troubles in Greece has dampened confidence, and equity markets have been sensitive to statements and reports of potential aid. European Union leaders were meeting to lay the foundations at a summit in Brussels for a financial bailout of Greece, in what would be the first rescue of a euro zone member since the currency was created 11 years ago.

The details of the package were not expected to be made final until early next week, but euro zone leaders suggested it could include some form of loans to Greece.

The EU news on Greece wasn't all that outstanding. There wasn't a firm plan announced, said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. I would put that in the jaw-boning category.

Analysts also noted the market had rallied on speculation of a forthcoming deal earlier in the week.

Positive economic data added support as the number of people filing for initial jobless benefits fell sharply last week, reversing a recent spike that had heightened worries about labor market weakness.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> eased 18.06 points, or 0.18 percent, to 10,020.32. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> slipped 3.01 points, or 0.28 percent, to 1,065.12. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was off 7.55 points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,140.32.

The utilities sector led decliners as shares of FirstEnergy Corp lost 6.1 percent to $38.95 after it said it will buy Pennsylvania utility Allegheny Energy Inc in an all-stock deal worth $4.7 billion. Allegheny jumped 9.3 percent to $22.98.

(Editing by Padraic Cassidy)