NEW YORK, Sept 11 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down slightly in late afternoon trading on Thursday following a decline in biotechnology shares, but gains in financials helped to limit the day's losses.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase were up 0.8 percent, while shares of Bank of America were up 1.1 percent, the two biggest positives on the S&P 500.
Weighing on the market was data showing jobless claims unexpectedly rose, the second discouraging read on the labor market within a week. The report, along with Friday's bearish payroll report, gave investors few reasons to keep buying with indexes near records.
The S&P 500 was on track for its sixth decline in the past eight sessions, though it remains less than 1 percent below a recent record close.
"Fundamentally, we're at all-time highs for profits and dividends and global trade, so the market should continue its longer-term trend higher," said Tim Courtney, chief investment officer of Exencial Wealth Advisors in Oklahoma City.
The biotech group was among the weakest of the day, down 0.8 percent. Gilead Sciences, down 2 percent, was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Investors have viewed the group as overvalued. Gilead is up 41.2 percent since the start of the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average was falling 36.57 points, or 0.21 percent, to 17,032.14, the S&P 500 was losing 1.03 points, or 0.05 percent, to 1,994.66 and the Nasdaq Composite was dropping 5.93 points, or 0.13 percent, to 4,580.59.
The largest percentage gainer on the New York Stock Exchange was Vail Resorts, rising 11.75 percent, while the largest percentage decliner was Brady Corp, down 8.24 percent.
Among the most active stocks on the NYSE was Sprint, up 5.77 percent to $6.51.
On the Nasdaq, Apple, down 0.3 percent to $100.71, and Facebook, up 0.2 percent to $77.60, were among the most actively traded.
Advancing issues were outnumbering decliners on the NYSE by 1,654 to 1,366, for a 1.21-to-1 ratio to the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,492 issues were rising and 1,179 falling for a 1.27-to-1 ratio favoring advancers. That marked a reversal from earlier in the session, when more stocks fell than rose.
The broad S&P 500 index was posting 14 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 62 new highs and 38 new lows. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)