The Labor Department said initial filings for unemployment benefits dropped by 5,000 to 366,000. But that was less than half the decline economists had predicted.
By close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 42.47 points or 0.3 percent to 13,944.05. The Nasdaq composite index lost 3.34 points or 0.11 percent to 3,165.13. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed 2.73 points or 0.18 percent to 1,509.39.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,296 stocks advanced and 1,726 declined on a volume of 3.5 billion shares traded.
The 10-year treasury note rose 2/32 to yield 1.957 percent.
Against the dollar, the euro fell to $1.3396 from Wednesday's $1.3523. The dollar was unchanged on the day against the yen at 93.64 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 106.68 points, 0.93 percent, to 11,357.07.
In London, the FTSE 100 index shed 1.06 percent, 66.92, to 6,228.42.