Shares of retailers were mixed following the lackluster sales reports. Wet Seal WTSLA slipped 7 cents, or 2.1%, to $3.30 after the teen retailer said sales at stores open at least a year dropped 12.1% in July, much worse than the 10% decline analysts expected.
Limited Brands LTD, however, reported a smaller than anticipated 7% drop in sales. It shot up more than 13%, adding $1.67 to $14.41.
In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 8.10, or 1.4%, to 557.89.
Bond prices edged higher, pushing yields down. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 3.73% from 3.75% late Wednesday.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices fell.
Light, sweet crude fell 3 cents to $71.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
In Europe, stocks rebounded after two days of losses, buoyed by solid corporate earnings reports. Investors also shrugged off the decision by European central banks to leave their benchmark interest rates at low levels. The Bank of England also announced plans to expand its asset purchase program, signaling that the government is still cautious about the economy despite recent signs of improvement.
Britain's FTSE 100 finished trading up 0.9%, Germany's DAX index rose 0.3%, and France's CAC-40 added 0.6%. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 1.3%.