Major benchmarks edged lower as investors balanced easing Spanish bond yields with lackluster economic data from the U.S. and China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 18 points, or 0.2%, to 12804.45 in early Thursday trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell five points to 1350.44 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 18 points to 2912.13.
Defensive-oriented telecommunications and utility stocks led among S&P 500's 10 sectors. 3M MMM +0.53% and Boeing BA +0.16% each rose to lead blue chips' gains.