Better-than-expected retail sales data failed to cheer the market out of anxiety over geopolitics and jobs on Thursday. On Wednesday , stock proxies overcame negative news. Thursday, by contrast, was a session in which shares proved unable to benefit from some positive developments. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.6% to 8538.40 after having traded as high as 8615.13 and as low as 8510.84, while the S&P 500 shed 0.4% to 901.58 vs. its earlier best of 908.37. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite added 0.2% to 1399.60 but finished well off its intraday high of 1411.70. Trading volumes were below average yet again, with just over 1.2 billion shares traded on the NYSE, where advancing stocks led decliners by a slim 17 to 15 margin. Losers led 16 to 15 in Nasdaq trading, where just under 1.2 billion shares were exchanged. The intraday range and, certainly, the final price movements for major proxies, also were below average. The market's relatively subdued action lately has optimists hopeful the averages were building a base for another move higher. The old Wall Street saw, "never short a dull market," has been frequently referenced this week. On the other hand, some believe the market's inability to muster forward progress -- especially amid positive news flow -- is a harbinger of another sharp downturn. "Using a combination of breadth, volume and price data, the momentum of all three components of our model turned negative" earlier this week, prompting a sell recommendation, Jeff deGraaf, senior technical analyst at Lehman Brothers, reported Thursday. That's the first sell signal from his indicator since it generated a buy recommendation on Oct. 11, he noted. Previous sell signals were on Jan. 16, March 22 and Sept. 3 earlier this year, and on Dec. 4, and June 1 last year. DeGraaf, who was not available for additional comment, observed that price momentum -- while far from infallible -- "rarely fails us in the major calls and big moves."