Stocks indexes bobbed between small gains and small losses Thursday before closing mixed as investors focused on a large batch of earnings reports from U.S. companies and awaited the first jobs report of the Trump administration.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 1.3 points, about 0.06 percent, at 2,280.9. The Dow Jones industrial average also was down 6 points, about 0.03 percent, at 19,884.9. The Nasdaq composite had lost 6.5 points, about 0.1 percent, to 5,636.2.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS: Investors are awaiting Friday’s closely watched jobs report, the first that will be under the tenure of President Donald Trump. Economists expect employers created 175,000 jobs in January, and the unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent. Along with being important to investors as an economic indicator, the report is likely to be politically fraught. Trump has called for measuring unemployment in different ways, through nontraditional metrics like the labor participation rate or the unemployment rate that includes measurements of workers in part-time jobs who want full-time work.
BOND PRICES: At the close, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 2.47 percent.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, U.S. benchmark crude oil slipped 22 cents to $54.27 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London on the Intercontinental Exchange Europe, Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, was down 11 cents at $56.69 a barrel.
TRUMP TURBULENCE: Surveys showed improving U.S. factory activity and employment for last month, which add further evidence that the world’s biggest economy continues to improve. But investors were rattled by the latest news from the Trump administration, including a phone call in which he warned Mexico’s president he might send in troops and another about a tense exchange with Australia’s leader over refugees. Analysts said investors are increasingly wary of risky investments in light of Trump’s dramatic policy announcements since taking office.
ANALYST’S VIEW: “Donald Trump’s presidency comes with greater than normal risks,” analyst Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney, said in a report. Eventually, “pragmatic pro-growth policies are likely to ultimately dominate populist policies. However, the Trump honeymoon with investors is likely over with a short term period of correction/volatility likely to continue in shares, bond yields and the U.S. dollar.”
FEDERAL RESERVE: The Federal Reserve left a key interest rate on hold after its latest policy meeting, as investors had expected. Policymakers signaled that they still expect to gradually raise rates but gave no clear timeline.