Investors can't seem to get the stock market rally back up to full speed again.
Stocks closed mostly higher but down from their highs of the day Thursday following three straight days of losses. Investors piled back into financial and health care companies and moved out of industries like technology that had been leading the market.
Several upbeat economic reports encouraged investors after a slide earlier this week that dragged the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index down 3.8 percent. Investors also sold Treasurys, feeling less need for the safety of government debt because of the signs of economic improvement.
The government said the overall number of people drawing unemployment benefits fell last week for the first time since early January. The drop broke a string of 21 straight increases. Separately, the Philadelphia Reserve Bank said manufacturing activity picked up in the mid-Atlantic region.
The reports helped reassure investors that a recovery is still emerging. The Dow Jones industrials rose 58.42, or 0.7 percent, to 8,555.60, its biggest one-day gain in two weeks. The Dow had been up 98 points. The S&P 500 index rose 7.66, or 0.8 percent, to 918.37, while the Nasdaq composite index slipped 0.34, or less than 0.1 percent, to 1,807.72.
With trading light as the summer slowdown begins, analysts say more volume is needed in order to move the market significantly in either direction.