landsberg bennettU.S. stocks finished mixed Thursday as investors awaited further trade updates. The Dow slipped 52 points while the S&P 500 was unchanged. The Nasdaq Composite gained 0.1%.

Trade headlines were in focus throughout the session as U.S. and Chinese negotiators are set to begin in-person talks for the first time in two months shortly after the closing bell. On the economic front, an update showed the leading economic index was flat in August, versus projections of negative 0.1% and July’s 0.5% jump. Separately, initial jobless claims came in at 208,000 in the prior week, below consensus estimates of 213,000. A survey on the housing market revealed existing home-sales climbed 1.3% month-over-month in August, above projections of a 0.7% drop. Treasuries were mixed with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note finishing unchanged at 1.79%.

There was very little sector dispersion today with Health shares the top performer. Technology stocks also posted solid gains as Microsoft added 1.8% after the software provider announced a new $40 billion share repurchase program. Industrials underperformed as the group slipped roughly 0.5% due to weakness in transportation companies. In other corporate news, Costco eased 1.6% following an analyst downgrade of the membership warehouse store. Shares of Darden Restaurants declined 5.1% after the restaurant chain operator’s revenue figures and same-store sales comps came in below Wall Street projections.

In commodities, WTI crude added 0.5% to $58.41/barrel. COMEX gold slipped 0.7% to $1,499.00/ounce despite a weaker dollar.