The S&P 500 and Nasdaq edged lower in choppy trading Thursday after disappointing forecasts from retailers and as investors braced for Friday's monthly jobs report.
Consumer-related shares were among the biggest losers in the S&P 500 after Ralph Lauren and Kohl's retailers warned of a tough year ahead. Ralph Lauren sank 22 percent to $90.15 while Kohl's fell 18.4 percent to $41.70, the two biggest percentage decliners in the S&P 500.
The consumer discretionary index was down 1 percent, while S&P staples was down 1.1 percent.
The Dow was in positive territory, helped by shares of Goldman Sachs, up 2 percent at $155.73.
Adding to the day's overall weakness, though, was data showing nonfarm productivity fell in the fourth quarter at its fastest pace in more than a year. New orders for U.S. factory goods also fell in December by the most in a year.
"Investors are looking for a bullish catalyst and it's still not there. There was a lot of hope with respect to earnings and so far earnings have been lackluster at best. We're now seeing a lot of weaker-than-expected economic data coming out," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of Sarhan Capital in New York.
At 3:08 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.79 points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,352.45, the S&P 500 had lost 4.44 points, or 0.23 percent, to 1,908.09 and the Nasdaq Composite had dropped 18.40 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4,485.84.
Stocks have had a rough start to 2016, hurt by tepid U.S. growth, falling oil prices and concern that the world faces a China-led slowdown.
UBS cut its year-end target for the S&P 500 index to 2,175 points from 2,275 and trimmed its earnings estimate for S&P 500 companies to $119 from $126 on weaker U.S. growth prospects.
Fourth-quarter S&P 500 earnings are expected to have fallen 4.2 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data.
GoPro fell 8.1 percent to $9.83 after the camera maker forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts' estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,820 to 1,208, for a 1.51-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,478 issues rose and 1,275 fell for a 1.16-to-1 ratio favoring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and 76 new lows. (Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Don Sebastian and Nick Zieminski)