Wall Street stocks finished little changed Thursday following mixed economic data in the latest round of choppy trading as worries linger over Covid-19 and expected monetary policy shifts.
Defying expectations for another drop after falling in July, US retail sales posted a 0.7 percent rebound last month despite a sharp decrease in car sales.
But on the downside, initial US jobless claims for the week ended September 11 were 332,000, above analysts' forecasts and 20,000 more than the week prior.
US President Joe Biden again made the case for a $3.5 trillion spending package financed by tax increases on corporations and the very wealthy. But the prospects for the bill look uncertain due to Republican opposition to tax hikes and most of the spending.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2 percent to 34,751.32.
The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2 percent to 4,473.75, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.1 percent at 15,181.92.
After a series of records in recent months, stocks have been under pressure most of September, historically a weak month for the market.
Analysts have cited the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, myriad supply chain problems that have exacerbated inflation and worries over the Federal Reserve's plan to scale back stimulus as soon as this year.
The market is "sort of in a tug of war right now," said Art Hogan, chief strategist at National Securities.
"Should we believe the concern we have over the slowing because of Covid-19, or should we believe the data over the last two days that shows some improvement in economic activity?"