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Wall St. little changed as jobs data looms

Posted by: Admin | Posted on: August 4th, 2016 | 0 Comments

NEW YORK Wall Street held near the unchanged mark on Thursday as investors exercised caution ahead of Friday’s U.S. payrolls report.

The key monthly hiring data will help investors gauge the health of the economy and possibly offer insight as to when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again.

Wednesday’s ADP employment report showed private employers added 9,000 more jobs than anticipated in July. Thursday’s initial jobless claims reading showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but still showed a healthy labor market.

“It was a mixed bag of economic results that beat expectations but they were themselves lower, a mixed bag of earnings, so there wasn’t that much to move the market in any particular direction today,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.

“Given that we’ve got the payrolls report tomorrow investors would rather just keep their powder dry for now.”

Traders have priced in a 12 percent chance of a rate hike in September and a 38.5 percent chance in December, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI fell 25.38 points, or 0.14 percent, to 18,329.62, the SP 500 .SPX lost 1.22 points, or 0.06 percent, to 2,162.57 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 4.01 points, or 0.08 percent, to 5,163.75.

The Bank of England lowered its key lending rate to 0.25 percent from 0.5 and said it would take “whatever action is necessary” to achieve stability in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Metlife (MET.N) dropped more than 9 percent as the biggest drag to the SP 500 after the largest U.S. life insurer’s quarterly profit missed estimates.

Ball Corp (BLL.N) jumped 11.3 percent after its quarterly sales rose and was the top percentage gainer on the SP 500.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of the 403 companies in the SP 500 that have posted earnings, 70 percent have topped expectations, in line with the beat rate for the past four quarters. Earnings are expected to show a decline of 2.8 percent for the quarter, up from the 4.5 percent decline expected on July 1.

LinkedIn (LNKD.N) which has agreed to be bought by Microsoft (MSFT.O), and Kraft Heinz (KHC.O) are scheduled to report after the bell.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.32-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.10-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The SP 500 posted 16 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 73 new highs and 29 new lows.

(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva and James Dalgleish)

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