S&P 500, Nasdaq end at records ahead of August jobs data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Aug 27, 2021.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Aug 27, 2021.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Major US equity indices again finished at records on Thursday (Sept 2) following better weekly jobless claim data ahead of the closely-watched August employment report.

The Labour Department reported a seasonally adjusted 340,000 new filings for aid in the week ended Aug 28, 14,000 less than the previous week's upwardly revised level and the lowest since Covid-19 caused millions of layoffs in March 2020.

The report comes ahead of Friday's labour data, which is expected to show the United States added 750,000 positions last month, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.2 per cent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 0.4 per cent at 35,443.82.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.3 per cent to 4,536.95, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.1 per cent to 15,331.18.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished at all-time high closing records.

"We're really inching forward here in what seems to be a wait-and-see mode for tomorrow's economic data," said Art Hogan, chief strategist at National Securities.

Analysts will scrutinise Friday's jobs report for signs of when the Federal Reserve might begin scaling back its massive stimulus programme, as its chief Jerome Powell said could happen by the year's end.

A strong report "could provide more ammunition for Fed hawks," said TD Ameritrade's JJ Kinahan in a note, while adding that the Delta variant of Covid-19 added uncertainty.

"We've seen some other data come in a little light lately," he said. "On the other hand, you can't count out the chance for more gains."

Among individual companies, Hormel Foods fell 4.6 per cent as it pointed to "significant inflationary pressure" across its packaged foods business, including with raw materials, freight and labour.