The U.S. stocks traded mixed after a higher opening on Thursday, though economic data of both the United States and China came in positive.
The market kept retreating this week with a light economic calendar, as investors' mood was dampened by hawkish comments from several senior U.S. Federal Reserve officials, who believed that the central bank may start to trim its asset purchase programs later this year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 logged a three- day losing streak in the previous sessions.
The number of Americans who initially applied for unemployment aid last week edged up from a five-year low, but the increase was smaller than expected, the U.S. Labor Department reported on Thursday.
In the week ending Aug. 3, the advance figure for seasonally- adjusted initial jobless claims rose by 5,000 to 333,000 from an upwardly-revised figure of 328,000 in the previous week. And the four-week moving average, a less volatile measure of the claims, declined by 6,250 to 335,500, the lowest level since November 2007.
"Layoffs remain close to cycle lows. In the past two years, however, jobless claims rose in August and September. We may see a similar pattern this year. But for now, claims near a multi-year low support the expectation of Fed tapering in September," Mei Li, an economic analyst at FTN Financial, commented in a note on Thursday.
Meanwhile, China's exports went up 5.1 percent year on year in July, recovering from a tumble in June. The country's imports also surged 10.9 percent, according to customs data. Analysts believe that the trade data helped strengthen market expectations for China's steady economic growth.
In corporate news, Tesla Motors shares jumped 16.60 percent to 156.55 U.S. dollars apiece in midday trading. The electric car maker late on Wednesday posted adjusted per-share earnings of 20 cents for the second quarter, which exceeded analysts' expectations.
Groupon shares also soared 27.28 percent to 11.10 dollars. The online daily deals company late on Wednesday reported second- quarter sales that topped market estimates, and also named Eric Lefkofsky as its new chief executive officer.
In midday trading, the Dow lost 7.48 points, or 0.05 percent, to 15,463.19. The S&P 500 went up 3.03 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,693.94. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 16.28 points, or 0.45 percent, to 3,670.29.