US stocks were mixed in early trade Thursday as markets continued in their generally sideways drift in a patient wait for a political deal in the fiscal cliff deficit talks.
After 30 minutes of trade the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 18.97 points (0.15 percent) to 13,015.52.
The S&P 500 slipped 1.94 (0.14 percent) to 1,407.34, while the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.57 (0.02 percent) at 2,974.27.
US weekly jobless claims did not surprise at 370,000, settling back to the year's general range after spiking higher for three weeks due to superstorm Sandy.
Fiscal cliff talks continued, with both sides moving slightly closer via hints at compromise but no real news to confirm that the sharp tax hikes and spending cuts programmed for January 1 will be averted.
Apple, which took its sharpest fall in four years Wednesday, opened more than two percent lower before rebounding; it was down 0.3 percent at $537.23.
Investors continued to dump shares of miner Freeport-McMoRan after it announced a $9 billion deal to buy two US oil and gas firms at hefty premiums.
Investors criticized that the deals, saying they appeared to heavily benefit the board members and top shareholders in Freeport that also had interests in the other two companies, McMoRan Exploration and Plains Exploration.
Freeport shares were down 4.0 percent, after losing 16 percent Wednesday.
Plains lost 2.3 percent and McMoRan 0.2 percent.
Bond prices gained. The 10-year US Treasury yield dipped to 1.57 percent from 1.59 percent late Wednesday, while the 30-year fell to 2.76 percent from 2.78 percent.
Bond prices and yields move inversely.