Wall St ends flat on caution ahead of US jobs data
NEW YORK (REUTERS) - United States (US) stocks ended little changed on Thursday in a choppy session ahead of Friday's payrolls report, which may provide insights into whether the Federal Reserve will announce another cut in quantitative easing at its meeting this month.
Retail and telecom stocks ranked among the day's biggest losers. The S&P retail sector index slipped 0.2 per cent after a number of retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Family Dollar, slashed their earnings forecasts. The S&P telecom services sector index fell 1.9 per cent, pulled lower by AT&T and Verizon Communications, which were the top decliners in the Dow Jones industrial average.
Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have added 196,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, slightly below November's count of 203,000. Hiring would, however, be above the monthly average of 188,545 jobs over the first 11 months of 2013.
"There is a bit of hesitancy going into the jobs report and the start of earnings season. The interest is still there for equities, but with caution," said Mr Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist of Banyan Partners LLC in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. He added that fourth-quarter earnings will show whether corporate results can keep up with last year's rally in equities.