By Anora Mahmudova and Carla Mozee, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks were slightly higher on Thursday, as investors assessed a larger-than-expected jump in jobless claims and mixed earnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kohl's Corp.

The S&P 500 (SPX) was up 3 points, or 0.2%, at 1,950.50. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was up 13 points,or 0.1%, at 16,665.74. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) ticked up 2 points to 4,436.62.

Dow industrials component Wal-Mart (WMT)lowered its full-year earnings forecast, while second-quarter operating profit met analyst expectations and sales topped those views.

Department-store operator Kohl's (KSS) shares rallied after the company posted slightly improved second-quarter earnings from a year ago, despite a decline in sales. Same-stores sales turned positive in July.

A report from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims rose more than expected, but remained close to pre-recession levels, boding well for the labor market.

"Investors gave a jobless claims a pass, as the trend seems to be intact," said Lawrence Creatura, portfolio manager at Federated Investors. He said the firm own shares in American Eagle Outfitters Inc.(AEO)

Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores are slowly adjusting to a shift in consumer behavior, and "we seea lot of stocks that are now attractive because of that shift," he said.

After Thursday's closing bell, embattled retailer J.C. Penney (JCP) is projected to report a narrower second-quarter loss of 91 cents a share.

Nordstrom (JWN) also will release results after the close, and analysts expect the upscale department store chain to post earnings of 94 cents for its second quarter.

Also read: Why retail worries will only grow, and love for Tesla

Stocks to watch

Tesla Motors Inc.(TSLA) could extend the streak of record closes to four straight sessions. Tesla stock has been climbing since reporting strong second-quarter results.

Cisco Systems (CSCO) shares fell after the network-equipment maker said late Wednesday that it plans to cut up to 6,000 jobs. (Read more about the day's notable movers here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/wal-mart-cisco-are-stocks-to-watch-thursday-2014-08-13.)

In other action, the 10-year yield on U.S. Treasurys fell 36 basis points to 2.4% after the jobless claims. September oil futures (CLU4) gave up 63 cents a barrel, while December gold futures (GCZ4) gave up earlier gains and were flat. European stocks were higher and Asian stocks finished mixed, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng losing 0.4%.

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 14, 2014 10:31 ET (14:31 GMT)

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