NEW YORK (Reuters) - The S&P 500 ended slightly lower on Thursday after a report that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller had issued a subpoena for documents related to U.S. President Donald Trump’s businesses offset strong jobs and manufacturing data.

Traders work on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The S&P fell to a session low soon after the New York Times report was released but recovered much of its losses by the market close. It has fallen for four straight days, its longest losing streak since December.

The Dow pared some gains but still ended higher for the first time in four days.

As earnings season has drawn to a close, political developments, such as the ouster of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, have significantly influenced the direction of U.S. stocks.

“The market is looking to bite on something to push it out of its trading range,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

Earlier, the S&P had opened with gains as government data showed weekly U.S. jobless claims fell last week, pointing to a strong labor market. Manufacturing surveys from the New York Fed and Philadelphia Fed also pointed to a tightening labor market.

It also got a boost after Peter Navarro, the White House’s top adviser on international trade, said in a CNBC interview Trump’s tough approach to global trade, including tariffs on metals imports, would not necessarily provoke retaliation.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 115.54 points, or 0.47 percent, to close at 24,873.66, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 2.15 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,747.33 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 15.07 points, or 0.2 percent, to 7,481.74.

The S&P industrial index .SPLRCI, however, rose 0.3 percent, leading all sectors, and posted its first session of gains in four days as worries of a trade war eased. Caterpillar (CAT.N) was up 1.3 percent.

Among stocks, Alibaba (BABA.N) jumped 3.4 percent on a report that the Chinese e-commerce company was planning a secondary listing in China.

Dollar General (DG.N) rose 4.8 percent after the discount retailer’s quarterly same-store sales beat estimates.

Qorvo (QRVO.O) tumbled 3.9 percent after Bank of America said the radio frequency chipmaker could lose out to Broadcom (AVGO.O) for a spot in upcoming iPhones.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.71-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.31-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.65 billion shares, compared to the 7.08 billion average over the last 20 trading days.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and James Dalgleish

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