* Stock markets close at 1 p.m. ET
* Jobless claims fell to 267,000 last week
* Crude prices up marginally
* Dow down 0.11 pct, S&P up 0.02 pct, Nasdaq up 0.25 pct (Updates to late morning)
By Noel Randewich
Dec 24 (Reuters) - Wall Street was mixed on Thursday as a drop in energy stocks kept a lid on holiday cheer in a shortened Christmas Eve trading session.
Equity markets will close at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) on Thursday, ahead of the Christmas Day holiday on Friday. Volume is expected to be light, which could exacerbate volatility.
Oil prices rose marginally, with U.S. crude set for gains for the fourth straight day.
But the S&P energy sector snapped a three-day rally, declining 0.71 percent. Chevron lost 1.52 percent and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500.
The largest positive influence on the S&P was Facebook , up 0.57 percent.
A rally this week has left the S&P 500 marginally in positive territory for 2015 but it is still down for December, disappointing investors hoping for a Santa Claus rally.
“People are saying ‘Hey, I want to protect my portfolio and my gains and let’s make sure we’re in a defensive position come Monday’,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
At 12:09 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.11 percent at 17,583.19 while the S&P 500 had gained 0.02 percent to 2,064.62.
The Nasdaq Composite added 0.25 percent to 5,058.42.
Six of the 10 sectors were lower.
Data on Thursday showed jobless claims fell to 267,000 last week, beating the 270,000 estimated. Claims have stayed below 300,000 for 42 weeks in a row, helping the Federal Reserve’s view of a stabilizing labor market.
MBIA shares rose 8.3 percent after Puerto Rico’s debt-ridden power utility PREPA tentatively agreed to restructure its debt. MBIA is one of PREPA’s bond insurers, as is Assured Guaranty, which was up 2.5 percent.
Dow component Nike dipped 1.67 percent from an adjusted close of $64.36 on Wednesday. The stock’s 2-for-1 share split comes into effect on Thursday.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,702 to 1,228. On the Nasdaq, 1,580 issues rose and 1,075 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed eight new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 41 new highs and 26 new lows. (Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Chris Reese)