Stocks were little changed on Thursday as the latest economic data clouded investors' views on the prospects for a recovery even as the corporate earnings season got off to a strong start.

JPMorgan Chase & Co posted a strong quarterly profit but warned of deteriorating consumer credit. Its shares fell 1.

Thursday's more cautious tone follows a robust three-day run-up that was the S&P 500's best since March. Financial firms <.GSPF> were the biggest drag, sliding 1.5 percent, after gaining sharply earlier this week on optimism about bank earnings.

The market is just digesting the move it's had over the last three days. There's some uncertainty now, some unwillingness to buy things that are more overbought than they were a little while ago, said Cleveland Rueckert, market analyst at Birinyi Associates Inc in Connecticut.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 9.75 points, or 0.11 percent, at 8,625.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 0.87 points, or 0.09 percent, at 931.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 4.32 points, or 0.23 percent, at 1,867.22.

Data showed factory activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region shrank for the 10th consecutive month in July, a worse-than-expected decline that raised questions about the speed of the economic recovery.

A possible bankruptcy filing by lender CIT Group Inc was also a concern after the 101-year-old company said bailout talks with the government had broken off. Shares of CIT, which lends to retailers as well as many small and mid-sized U.S. businesses, plunged 69 percent to 51 cents.

In other economic news, government data showed the number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits fell last week to their lowest level since January, but the seasonally adjusted data was amplified by earlier auto industry plant shutdowns.

The market is only a week into the current earnings reporting period, with more bellwethers to come. International Business Machines and Google Inc are scheduled to report results after the closing bell on Thursday.

(Editing by Leslie Adler)