US stocks gain ahead of March jobs report

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished modestly higher on Thursday (Arpil 6), shrugging off concerns about US monetary policy ahead of the closely watched March jobs report.

US equities steadied after Federal Reserve meeting minutes had prompted a sell-off Wednesday afternoon due to concerns about tightening monetary policy.

Petroleum-related shares rose with higher oil prices, along with the industrial giant Caterpillar and some retailers after Bed Bath & Beyond reported better-than-expected earnings.

Analysts are looking ahead to Friday's official Labor Department jobs report, which is expected to show the economy added 215,000 jobs in March and that unemployment held steady at 4.7 per cent.

Markets are also eyeing President Donald Trump's first meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.1 per cent to 20,663.02.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.2 per cent to 2,357.49, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.3 per cent to 5,878.95.

Costco Wholesale advanced 1.7 per cent after reporting a six percent rise in comparable sales for March.

Bed Bath & Beyond surged 3.4 per cent after reporting fiscal fourth-quarter earnings with a 0.4 per cent rise in comparable sales. Net income was US$268.7 million (S$376.7 million) on US$3.5 billion in revenue.

Beer and wine marketer Constellation Brands advanced 6.3 per cent after reporting that fiscal fourth-quarter earnings jumped 85.7 per cent to US$452 million.