NEW YORK (AFP) - US stocks bobbed and weaved before ending Tuesday's (Aug 31) session with modest losses as investors await key data on how the labour market is weathering the Delta variant surge.
In the final trading day of August, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.1 per cent to close at 35,359.08.
The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.1 per cent to finish at 4,522.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was essentially flat at 15,259.24, ending a two-session streak of records by both indices.
Following a reassuring signal last week from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell that the central bank will be cautious in removing its massive stimulus from the economy, attention now turns to the government employment report due out on Friday, which is expected to show hiring slowed as the virus resurged.
But before that, markets will get ADP private hiring data on Wednesday, which can preview trends in the labour market.
Despite the lacklustre session, Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Markets noted that "the fundamentals of the market remain strong and interest rates are not going up anytime soon."
He said the upcoming month can be a tricky one for equities, but markets have discounted the Fed's expected tapering of bond purchase and "until that interest rates needle moves, it's a good sign that perhaps the September's blues might not have its full effect."
Among individual shares, Zoom's boom during the work-from-home wave of the pandemic seemed to end with a nearly 17 per cent loss after the video meeting company announced slightly less positive customer growth, even as earnings beat expectations.