Stocks close mixed ahead of jobs report
Following a dismal performance Wednesday, the Dow fell about 41 points, the S&P 500 dropped about one point, and the Nasdaq gained about four points
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Further signs of weakness emerged as jobless claims fell less than expected Thursday, and retailers offered a mixed report on May same-store sales. But most investors were awaiting the May's jobs report on the government due Friday for a clearer picture of the economy's health.Skip to next paragraph
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"Leading into the unemployment data tomorrow, investors are very concerned the numbers are going to be worse than expected," said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner, Meridian Equity Partners. "I think the bar is set really, really low for tomorrow."
The government is expected to report that employers hired 150,000 last month, according to a Reuters survey, after increasing payrolls by 244,000 in April.
While investors have been jittery in the first two days of June, the weakness evident in the latest series of economic reports is consistent with a choppy recovery, said Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at BNY ConvergEx Group. The choppiness shouldn't be a surprise, and it doesn't mean the economy won't turn around later this year, Colas added.
"We’re going to get periods of slowdown but it doesn’t mean we roll over and die," he said.
Retailers were mostly lower after posting a mixed bag of monthly sales figures as consumers struggled with higher prices for gasoline.
Costco's same-store sales in May beat estimates thanks to higher gas prices, rising 13 percent, while BJ's Wholesale also did better than expected. But Limited Brands, owner of Victoria's Secret, Gap, Target and TJX all missed.
Financials stocks were largely higher despite a spate of bad news. Goldman Sachs was off the lows of the session that were reached after news the investment firm received a subpoena from New York State.
And Moody's placed Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo on review for possible downgrade. The banks had benefited from monetary stimulus during the financial crisis and the review will show whether the removal of that support will require an adjustment.