Category: Markets / Finance / February 7, 2013 10:56 AM EST
U.S. stocks were little changed on Thursday (February 7) after data showed modest improvement in the labor market and retailers posted mixed monthly sales.
Weekly initial jobless claims dipped last week, with the four-week moving average falling to its lowest level since March 2008, signaling the economy continues to recover slowly.
A separate report said fourth-quarter productivity registered its biggest drop in nearly two years, while unit labor costs jumped 4.5 percent, more than economists expected.
Recent data has pointed to a slow improvement in the economy, but one without enough strength to cause the Federal Reserve to abandon its easy monetary policy, which has helped the benchmark S&P index to climb 6 percent this year.
Several U.S. retailers reported mixed January sales results, as consumers faced a hit to their take-home pay from higher payroll taxes. The S&P retail index gained 0.3 percent.
Macy's Inc rose 1.4 percent to $40.04 (USD) after reporting January same store sales rose 11.7 percent.
But Ann Inc dropped 7.9 percent to $30.20 after forecasting fourth-quarter sales below analysts' expectations.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 13.90 points, or 0.10 percent, to 13,972.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 0.43 points, or 0.03 percent, to 1,511.69. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 3.04 points, or 0.10 percent, to 3,165.43.
(Video Source: Reuters)