NEW YORK, New York -
"There is a continued battle between the bulls and the bears and whether this rally has more room to run," \Eric Schiffer, chief executive of private equity firm the Patriarch Organization in Los Angeles, told Reuters Thursday.
"It is likely that we will go into another downturn next year, but the question is how deep, and that will depend on the Fed. The market at this point is leaning in the direction the Fed will go lighter, and you're seeing stocks anticipate that."
The Nasdaq Composite at least managed to finish in the black, rising 52.42 points or 0.41 percent to 12,720.88.
The Dow Jones industrials let go 85.68 points or 0.26 percent to 32,726.82.
The Standard and Poor's 500 slipped 3.22 points or 0.08 percent to 4,151.95.
The U.S. dollar was mixed. The euro strengthened to 1.0251 by the New York close Thursday. The Japanese yen rose to 132.86. The British pound was unchanged at 1.2169. The Swiss franc firmed to 0.9550.
The Canadian dollar declined a touch to 1.2858. The Australian and New Zealand dollars were marginally stronger at 0.6974 and 0.6306, respectively.
On overseas equity markets the German Dax gained 0.55 percent. The CAC 40 in Paris climbed 0.64 percent. In London, the FTSE 100 rose 0.03 percent.
In Japan, the Nikkei 225 advanced 190.30 points or 0.69 percent to 27,932.20.
China's Shanghai Composite rose 25.37 points or 0.80 percent to 3,189.04.
The Australian All Ordinaries edged up 4.60 points or 0.06 percent to 7,207.50.
In New Zealand, the S&P/NZX 50 climbed 30.47 points or 0.26 percent to 11,735.47.
South Korea's Kospi Composite gained 11.66 points or 0.47 percent to 2,473.11.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng did best, jumping 406.94 points or 2.06 percent to 20,174.04.