NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Blue chips slipped and the broader market was little changed Thursday, as investors sat on the sidelines in light trading ahead of the new year.
The Dow Jones industrial average (down 28.89 to 10,800.30, Charts) lost around 0.3 percent. The Standard & Poor's 500 (up 0.10 to 1,213.55, Charts) index and the Nasdaq composite (up 1.34 to 2,178.34, Charts) ended the session little changed.
The major gauges hit new highs for the year on Tuesday and stayed close to those levels through most of Thursday's session.
"We've made some nice gains for the year, and now we're consolidating near the highs," said Peter Cardillo, chief market analyst at S.W. Bach & Co.
U.S. light crude for February delivery fell 19 cents to settle at $43.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment last week fell to 326,000, the Labor Department said, from a downwardly revised 331,000 the previous week. Wall Street economists thought claims would rise to 335,000.
Both the fall in oil prices and the jobless report supported a positive tone, but did little to bring out new buyers.
Volume was very light, with many Wall Street professionals and other investors on vacation. Volume is expected to remain light on Friday, the last day of the year.
"The volume is low and that's going to make it volatile, but I think things look promising heading into the new year," Cardillo added.
Friday brings no economic news or corporate earnings. Commodities are closed for trading Friday, bond markets close early and equities are open for a full session.
A variety of steelmakers tumbled in active New York Stock Exchange trade after a report indicated that Chinese demand is declining. Losers included United States Steel (down $2.90 to $50.04, Research), Nucor (down $3.37 to $51.38, Research), and AK Steel Holding (down $1.95 to $13.89, Research).
CoTherix (up $2.04 to $12.02, Research) rallied 20 percent in active Nasdaq trade after U.S. regulators approved its inhaled treatment for high blood pressure in patients who have symptoms of heart failure.
A number of techs advanced, including IBM (up $0.12 to $98.30, Research), Oracle (up $0.16 to $13.88, Research) and Siebel Systems (up $0.48 to $10.42, Research).
In other news, Continental Airlines (up $0.25 to $13.70, Research) said it has ordered 10 of Boeing (down $0.17 to $51.90, Research)'s 7E7 wide-body jets.
Market breadth was positive and volume was anemic. On the New York Stock Exchange, advancers beat decliners by more than 9 to 7 on volume of 826 million shares. On the Nasdaq, winners beat losers 8 to 7 on volume of 1.40 billion shares.
Released shortly after the start of trading, the Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index for December fell to 61.2 from 65.2 in November. Economists thought it would fall to 63.0.
Treasury prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year note down to 4.25 percent from 4.32 percent late Wednesday. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.
In currency trading, the dollar fell versus the euro and yen.
COMEX gold rose $1.40 to settle at $438.40 an ounce.
In global trade, Asian and European markets ended mixed.