U.S. stocks traded on an unsteadily Thursday, with the major benchmarks swinging from solid gains to losses within minutes, at times, reflectin signs of softening economic data and a raft of uncertainties ahead, including a lack of additional economic stimulus and expected volatility from the 2020 presidential election. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up by about 52 points, or 0.2%, at 26,815, but not before trading within a 560-point range on the day. The Dow was down 226.12 points at the day's nadir and 331.72 at the session high. The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.16% finished up 0.3% at 3,246, but momentarily traded beneath its correction level--defined as a drop of at least 10% from recent peak--at 3,222.76. Gains were aided by a rise in consumer staples /zigman2/quotes/200697959/composite XLP -0.25% and utilities /zigman2/quotes/206645117/composite XLU -0.29% , considered safety plays during times of uncertainty. The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP +0.64% advanced 0.4% to finish around 10,672, after touching a high at 10,799, and a low at 10,520. Investors parsed a report that House Democrats were putting together another coronavirus stimulus plan that would come in at $2.4 trillion, with a possible vote on the legislation, which would include unemployment benefits, direct payments, small business loans and airline aid, as soon as next week, CNBC reported . Meanwhile, weekly labor figures showed that some aspects of the coronavirus recovery are stalling out. Jobless claims rose 4,000 to 870,000, the Labor Department said Thursday, reflecting that slightly more Americans applied for state unemployment benefits in the week ended Sept. 19 than in the prior week. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had been looking for claims to decline to 850,000.