Updated from 4:16 p.m. EDT
The upcoming long holiday weekend continued to keep stocks in a holding pattern, and Wall Street ended little changed Thursday despite the latest flood of monthly chain-store sales and another spate of economic reports.
Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down by 1.76 points, or 0.02%, at 11,381.15, the
was off by 0.46 point, or 0.04%, at 1303.81, and the
lost 1.98 points, or 0.09%, to 2183.75. For the month, the Dow rose 1.8%, the S&P added 2.2%, and the Nasdaq jumped 4.5%.
was the Dow's top winner, up 2%. Fellow component
"It's the peak week of vacation, and perhaps that explains the market's sleepy
movement," said Ken Tower, chief market strategist with CyberTrader. "Internal market data continues to support the bullish case. The Dow joined the S&P 500 in reaching new rally highs yesterday, but the biggest Nasdaq stocks failed yet again to break through resistance."
Volume was again light, with about 1.33 billion shares changing hands on the
New York Stock Exchange
. Advancers beat decliners by a 5-to-3 margin. On the Nasdaq, 1.45 billion shares traded, and winners and losers essentially tied.
With August coming to a close, the nation's retailers reported their same-store and total sales for the past month.
, the world's largest retailer, said same-store sales rose 2.7%, in line with its revised forecast over the weekend and ahead of the Thomson First Call consensus of 2.5%. Wal-Mart tacked on 10 cents, or 0.2%, to close at $44.72.
Also among winners were
, whose same-store sales rose 7.1%, and
Abercrombie & Fitch
, which saw comp sales rise 6%.
To view Gregg Greenberg's video take on today's market, click here
American Eagle Outfitters
posted a stronger-than-expected 11% rise in August same-store sales, prompting the apparel retailer to raise its earnings forecast. The stock climbed $1.43, or 3.9%, to $38.61.
said August comp sales rose 2.8%, below the consensus of a 3.1% increase. Shares of Target slipped 19 cents, or 0.4%, to $48.39.
Other retail losers included
, whose same-store sales slid 22%, and
, where comparable sales dropped 9.1%. The news was the same for
, as comp sales declined 7% in August.
By sector, the S&P Retail Index was higher by 0.3%. Elsewhere, the Amex Oil Index fell 1.1%, the Philadelphia Semiconductor Sector Index dropped 1%, and the Philadelphia/KBW Bank Sector Index was off 0.2%.
The economic docket was packed again as a data-heavy week continued. The Commerce Department said personal income rose 0.5% in July, and personal spending rose 0.8%. Both figures matched expectations. The core inflation measure rose 0.1%, slightly less than estimates. However, the year-over-year core inflation rate came in at 2.4%, an 11-year high.
"The third quarter has started strongly, though we expect much softer August/September numbers as falling confidence starts to hit spending," said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist with High Frequency Economics. "The prices data were benign, with the core PCE deflator up only 0.1%, a bit less than we expected. In short, pretty Treasury-friendly."
Government bonds were higher across the board, with the benchmark 10-year Treasury up 6/32 in price to yield 4.73%. Treasuries were unaffected by
Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech in South Carolina on U.S. productivity. The dollar fell against the euro and the Japanese yen.
Also on tap are the Chicago purchasing managers index for August, which came in at the expected reading of 57.1, and the Commerce Department's report on July factory orders, which fell 0.6%. The Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell by 2,000 to 316,000 for the week ended Aug. 26. The previous week's claims figure was revised upward to 318,000 from 313,000.
The economic report parade rolls on Friday, with August nonfarm payrolls data, the Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index and auto sales expected.
"Tomorrow's move will all be dependant on the jobs data," said Edgar Peters, chief investment officer with Pan Agora. "Should the numbers come in stronger than expected, we should expect a selloff, and vice versa. Everyone will be gone tomorrow afternoon for the holiday weekend, so it's likely we'll see some trailing off once we get the data."
A big merger was set to take place in the mining sector, where Canada's
said it will pay $8.6 billion in stock for Nevada's
. Goldcorp will own 60% of the combined company.
Goldcorp lost $2.81, or 9.2%, to $27.66, but Glamis surged 18.7% to close $46.12. Gold prices were up $8.10 to finish the session at $634.10 an ounce.
Energy prices were mixed. Crude for October delivery rose 23 cents to close at $70.26 a barrel in a volatile session, and gasoline eased by 5 cents to $1.75 a gallon. Crude prices dropped more than 7% over the course of August.
After the European Central Bank left its benchmark lending rate unchanged at 3%, European indices were mostly lower. London's FTSE 100 fell 0.4% to 5906, and Germany's Xetra DAX was down 0.1% at 5859. Stocks were higher in Asia, as Japan's Nikkei rose 1.7% to 16,140 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.6% to 17,392.