(CNBC) U.S. stocks closed mildly lower on Thursday as stocks struggled to hold gains from higher oil prices, amid investor focus on earnings.
"From a technical perspective we can't seem to break out here," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. "The market remains vulnerable here. Today is an assessment day."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 6.84 points, or 0.04 percent, at 18,105.77, with UnitedHealth leading gains and Merck the greatest blue chip laggard.
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The S&P 500 closed down 1.64 points, or 0.08 percent, at 2,104.99, with utilities the greatest of seven laggards and and consumer sectors leading.
The Nasdaq closed down 3.23 points, or 0.06 percent, at 5,007.79.