Stocks End Wobbly Day With Slight Gains Ahead of Jobs Report


Wall Street capped a wobbly day of trading Thursday with slight gains for the major stock indexes as technology companies and banks outweighed declines elsewhere in the market.

The muted trading came as investors looked ahead to a key government report on jobs and kept an eye on developments in the negotiations to end the trade war between the U.S. and China.

Investors are hoping that the world’s two biggest economies will reach a trade deal before new U.S. tariffs go into effect Dec. 15 on some popular products made in China, including smartphones.

They’re also looking for more clarity on the health of the economy. They’ll get a better sense of that Friday, when the Labor Department issues its November tally of hiring by nonfarm employers.

The S&P 500 index rose 4.67 points, or 0.2%, to 3,117.43. Even with the latest gain, the benchmark index is on track for a weekly loss, though it’s still up 24.4% for the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 28.01 points, or 0.1%, to 27,677.79.

The Nasdaq added 4.03 points, less than 0.1%, to 8,570.70. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 0.94 points, also less than 0.1%, to 1,614.83.

Wall Street has been assessing disappointing economic data this week in the lead-up to Friday’s highly anticipated jobs report.

Data released on Wednesday showed that the U.S. services sector, which makes up the bulk of the economy, grew at a surprisingly slow pace. That does not bode well as a gauge for the economy while the manufacturing sector continues shrinking.

U.S. stock indexes got off to an uneven start this week amid mixed signals on trade.

Technology stocks were among the biggest gainers Thursday. Apple rose 1.5%. The sector has much to gain, or lose, in trade negotiations because many of the companies rely heavily on China for sales and supplies.

Rising bond yields helped steady banks. The sector relies on higher bond yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.80% from 1.78% late Wednesday.

Communication services stocks also rose. ViacomCBS led the sector, climbing 3.6%. It was the first day of trading for the newly combined company.

Energy stocks were the biggest losers. Cimarex Energy slid 1.8%.

Makers and sellers of household goods fell. Molson Coors Brewing dropped 1.5% and supermarket operator Kroger fell 3%.

Retailers also declined. L Brands fell 3.4%.

United Airlines slipped 0.4% after it said CEO Oscar Munoz is stepping down from his post and will become executive chairman. The airline said that President J. Scott Kirby will be its new CEO.

Munoz led the company through a choppy period, and in 2017 gave up his bonus after the forcible removal of a ticketed passenger led to widespread criticism.

Benchmark crude oil was unchanged at $58.43 a barrel. Brent crude oil rose 39 cents to close at $63.39 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.62 per gallon. Heating oil climbed 1 cent to $1.93 per gallon. Natural gas rose 3 cents to $2.43 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $2.90 to $1,476.90 per ounce, silver rose 14 cents to $16.94 per ounce and copper rose 1 cent to $2.65 per pound.

The dollar fell to 108.74 Japanese yen from 108.93 yen on Wednesday.