US stocks hold steady ahead of August jobs report

NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks recouped early losses to end little-changed Thursday (Sept 1) ahead of the August jobs report that could tip the Federal Reserve's hand on interest rates.

Unemployment insurance claims remained low and pointed to continued firmness in the jobs market, and could presage a solid report on US job creation last month on Friday.

But optimism was dulled when the Institute of Supply Management reported that the US manufacturing sector contracted last month, based on its purchasing managers index for August.

Also hurting sentiment was a warning from the International Monetary Fund to the Group of 20 leaders slated to meet in China that the global economy risks sinking into a "low-growth trap" if leading economies do not do more to boost activity.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session up 0.1 per cent at 18,419.30.

The broad-based S&P 500 was virtually unchanged at 2,170.86, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3 per cent at 5,227.21.

Twitter added 1.5 per cent following Wednesday's 4.5 per cent gain on rising speculation the social messaging service could be a takeover target.

Tesla shares sank 5.3 per cent after reports that the company is cash-short and will need to raise capital through a new share issue. It was also hit by news early Thursday of a launch pad explosion that destroyed a rocket of Tesla founder Elon Musk's ambitious SpaceX private space technology company.

Giant retailer Costco sank 3.6 per cent after it missed revenue forecasts for the fiscal fourth quarter, with the US$35.7 billion (S$48.5 billion) just barely higher than a year ago. Annual sales also fell short of expectations.

Ford lost 1.3 per cent and General Motors 0.5 per cent after reporting car and truck sales fell in August, part of a general slowdown across the industry. Fiat Chrysler lost 1 per cent even though its US unit showed an increase in unit sales last month., the cloud computing company serving small businesses, sank 4.4 per cent on disappointing sales data.