NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Stocks finished mixed, with the Dow snapping its four-day winning streak, as so-so retail sales and a slight miss on initial jobless claims dampened optimism ahead of the December employment report on Friday. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 27 points, or 0.2%, to settle at 11,695, marking its first pullback of 2011. The S&P 500 fell 3 points, or 0.2%, to close at 1,274, while the Nasdaq tacked on 8 points, or 0.3%, at 2,710. Basic materials and energy stocks were the session's worst performers as a stronger U.S. dollar minimized the appeal of dollar-priced commodities. Alcoa ( AA), which will be the first Dow component to report its quarterly results on Monday, was among the biggest laggards among the blue chips, sliding 1.4%. The dollar index was up 0.8%. Verizon ( VZ) and AT&T ( T) were also prominent among the losers within the Dow, which saw 22 of its 30 components finish lower. Buying was selective among blue chips, however, with Boeing ( BA), Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ), IBM ( IBM), Merck ( MRK) and Microsoft ( MSFT) all gaining more than 1% . Expectations are running high for the December jobs report on Friday. The number of people filing for jobless claims for the first time rose by 18,000 to 409,000 during the week ended Jan. 1 from a revised 391,000 in the previous week, the Labor Department said early Thursday. Economists had expected claims to increase by 17,000, according to Briefing.com. >>December Jobs Report- What To Expect
Wednesday brought the first of several December labor reports leading up to Friday's release of the government's employment situation report, which includes the read on non-farm payrolls. Automated Data Processing's employment change report showed that the private sector added 297,000 jobs in December , which was more than double the increase of 100,000 positions that economists had expected. In November, the ADP report showed growth of 92,000. Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors, said the initial jobless claims data has been affected by seasonal factors and shouldn't significantly dampen expectations for the government's December employment report on Friday. However, he acknowledged that some of the weakness during Thursday's session could be profit-taking by bears anticipating a miss on Friday.