NEW YORK -- A brief morning rally pushed the Dow Jones industrial average above its highest closing price since the financial crisis Thursday, but stocks closed lower after mixed economic data tempered traders' optimism.

Solid news on factory orders and strong earnings from U.S. manufacturers highlighted one of the economy's bright spots before the market opened. Stock indexes turned negative after weaker reports on home sales and future economic growth were released in the late morning.

--The Dow closed down 22.33, or 0.2 percent, at 12,734.63.

--The S&P 500 index closed down 7.63, or 0.6 percent, at 1,318.43.

--The Nasdaq shed 13.03, or 0.5 percent, to close at 2,805.28. .

Mortgages edge upward, but remain below 4 percent

WASHINGTON -- The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose this week for the first time this month, though it remained below 4 percent for the eighth straight week.

Freddie Mac said Thursday the average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage rose to 3.98 percent. That's up from 3.88 percent the previous week, which was the lowest level on record.

The average on the 15-year fixed mortgage also rose to 3.24 percent, from 3.17 percent the previous week.

Taco Bell begins testing breakfast menu in U.S.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Yo quiero Taco Bell breakfast burrito! The Mexican-style fast-food chain that's best remembered for a 1990s ad in which a Chihuahua proclaimed "I want Taco Bell" in Spanish, introduced a breakfast menu Thursday at nearly 800 restaurants, mostly in the western U.S.

If the launch goes well, Taco Bell plans to begin selling breakfast in its 5,600 U.S. locations by 2014.

Taco Bell is entering the mad scramble by fast-food heavyweights to compete for the morning on-the-go crowd. Breakfast has become the most important meal for restaurants, accounting for virtually all of the industry's recent growth.

Revenue bump swings Nucor back to 4th-quarter profit

CHARLOTTE -- Steel manufacturer Nucor on Thursday said it returned to a fourth-quarter profit, helped by a jump in revenue.

The company said it earned $137 million in the last three months of 2011 compared to a year-earlier loss of $11.4 million. Revenue rose 25 percent to $4.83 billion. Locally, Nucor has a steel mill near Huger.