NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks were mostly lower in early afternoon trading Thursday, closing out a tumultuous week in which the Dow Jones industrial average had its biggest plunge in a month.
The Dow was down 34 points at 13,041 at 2:30 p.m. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2 points at 1,397. The Nasdaq composite rose 9 points to 3,077.
The Dow is down 1.3 percent for the week, and is heading for its worst week of the year. It dropped nearly 125 points Wednesday, its worst decline in a month, after the Federal Reserve signaled that it didn't plan any more steps to push interest rates lower.
"The sell-off yesterday was a little overdone, a reaction to how far we came for the quarter, and how fast," said Brian Lazorishak, a portfolio manager at Chase Investment Counsel. For the first three months of the year, the three major indexes were up 8 percent or more, the best start to a year since the great bull market of the 1990s.
Early Thursday, the Labor Department reported that the number of people seeking jobless benefits fell to a four-year low. Also, an industry group reported that sales at stores open at least a year climbed 4.1 percent last month, more than analysts were expecting.
Eight of the ten industry sectors in the S&P 500 index fell. Telecommunications companies fell the most, down 1.8 percent. Consumer discretionary companies rose 0.6 percent.
Spain has become the latest point of concern in Europe's debt crisis. Investors are concerned over the ability of the country's government to push through cost-cutting programs at a time when its economy appears to be heading for another recession.
Yields on 10-year Spanish bonds rose 0.08 percentage point to 5.74 percent, the highest level since November and a sign that investors are less confident in the country's finances.
The fear among investors is that if the borrowing rate climbs too high, Spain will have to follow Greece, Portugal and Ireland and seek outside help to pay its bills. Those three countries got bailouts after their borrowing rates rose above 7 percent.
Worries over Europe drove the dollar to a three-week high against the euro. The euro is trading at $1.31. It was worth $1.33 on March 30.
In U.S. stocks, Constellation Brands, a New York-based wine and spirits company, plunged 14 percent, the most in the S&P 500. The company's forecast for 2013 earnings was well below what analysts were expecting. Constellation's brands include Robert Mondavi wines and Corona Extra beer.
Bed Bath & Beyond jumped 10 percent, the most in the S&P 500, after the retailer reported a 25 percent surge in fourth-quarter profit, far more than analysts were forecasting. Sales at stores open for at least a year jumped 6.8 percent, well above Wall Street's estimate of 3.8 percent.
Stock trading will be closed Friday for the Good Friday holiday.
Gold closed up $16 to $1,630 per troy ounce, recovering from a big loss the day before. Gold had fallen $58 Wednesday to its lowest level in three months.