Stocks traded modestly lower Thursday as investors engaged in profit-taking after three days of gains. 

The S&P 500 was down 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3%, and the Nasdaq declined 0.4%.

The S&P 500 has enjoyed three straight days of gains, pushing it within 1% of its all-time high. The benchmark index has been helped along by a rally in crude oil and a less-hawkish Federal Reserve which all but eliminated the chances of a rate hike in June.

Crude oil fell below $51 a barrel on Thursday after scoring its best settlement since July last year a day earlier. The commodity was on a tear on Wednesday after the latest weekly data showed another decline in U.S. inventories. A general downward trend in U.S. production which has eaten into crude supplies has recently buoyed prices.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 0.9% to $50.79 a barrel on Thursday.

"The petroleum markets are seeing light-volume profit taking in Thursday trade as the U.S. dollar index firmed by 0.5% on lower-than-expected US unemployment claims," said Timothy Evans, energy futures analyst at Citi. "Although there is potential for a small decline to develop into a more significant drop, so far this looks like a modest technical correction following three days of gains rather than a major reversal."

The number of new claims for unemployment benefits in the U.S. continued to decline in the past week, falling 4,000 to 264,000 in the first week in June. The less-volatile, four-week average dropped 7,500 to 269,500. The declines are a positive after a surprisingly weak May jobs report which raised concerns over the health of the labor market.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi called upon politicians to help in pulling the eurozone toward its inflation target. Draghi asked for European governments to implement economic reforms designed to foster trade and boost employment.

"If other policies are not aligned with monetary policy, inflation risks returning to our objective at a slower pace," Draghi said in a speech in Brussels on Thursday.

The ECB has struggled to boost the region's economy even after ramping up stimulus measures. Eurozone inflation in May came in at minus 0.1%, far from the ECB's 2% target.

Yahoo! (YHOO) spiked nearly 1% on reports it has received multiple bids worth more than $5 billion for its core Internet assets. The bidding process is expected to end by mid-July.

JM Smucker (SJM - Get Report)  moved higher, leading the S&P 500, after topping analysts' estimates on its top- and bottom-lines in its recent quarter. The owner of Folgers coffee reported a 25% increase in net sales in its fourth quarter thanks to growth in its retail coffee segment in the U.S. Retail coffee revenue rose 9% over the quarter.

British telecom Vodafone (VOD) fell more than 1% after agreeing to combine its New Zealand operations with the country's unit of Sky Network. The $2.4 billion merger will combine Vodafone's 2.35 million mobile connections in New Zealand with Sky's roughly 830,000 subscribers. 

Medical device maker Boston Scientific (BSX - Get Report) announced a global restructuring program which will save around $115 million to $150 million annually by 2020. Boston Scientific said it expects "some employee attrition and targeted headcount reductions" under the restructuring, but anticipates that its overall employee base will remain relatively unchanged.

LinkedIn (LNKD) shares were active after RBC Capital upgraded the stock to outperform from sector perform with a $160 price target. RBC Capital's Mark Mahaney noted the stock is down 41% year to date, but survey work suggested the company remains positioned well.

SolarCity (SCTY) was upgraded to outperform from neutral with a $37 price target at Robert Baird. The firm noted the solar-power developer has improved its balance sheet and is cutting costs.