Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

U.S. stocks barely budge ahead of monthly jobs report

This July 6, 2015, photo shows a sign for Wall Street carved into the side of a building, in New York. Global stocks rose and the British pound fell Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016, after the Bank of England unveiled stimulus measures to help the economy deal with the uncertainty over the vote to leave the European Union. (Mark Lennihan / Associated Press)
By Marley Jay Associated Press

NEW YORK – U.S. stocks wavered Thursday and finished barely higher as an interest rate cut by the Bank of England, a move intended to shore up the British economy, wasn’t enough to get investors out of their recent cautious mode.

Technology companies continued to make the biggest gains, as they’ve done over the last few months. Oil prices rose for the second day in a row, something that hadn’t happened for almost three weeks. Bank stocks fell the most, as the interest rate cut suggests they won’t be able to make as much money on lending. While the Bank of England’s moves sent European stocks higher, investors in U.S. stocks moved carefully as they waited for Friday’s jobs report.

Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, said investors were playing it safe as they waited for the Labor Department’s July employment report. Hiring in June was stronger than expected, but that followed shockingly weak job growth in May.

“The market has been surprised before and wants to make sure that they’re prepared in either direction,” Krosby said. “To get the market to move higher you need an underpinning of stronger economic growth.”

The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 2.95 points to 18,352.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index inched up 0.46 points to 2,164.25. The Nasdaq composite rose 6.51 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,166.25.

The Bank of England cut interest rates to new lows and unveiled a raft of stimulus measures that include resuming a bond-buying program to pump money into the economy and offering cheap loans to banks. The measures seemed to exceed investors’ expectations, and the bank said the measures could be expanded later if it proves necessary.

The pound fell to $1.3116 from $1.3317 on Wednesday. Bank shares also lost ground, as lower interest rates reduce the amount of money they can make from lending.

Technology stocks have done better than the broader market in the spring and summer, and on Thursday they were led higher by companies including Facebook and communications chipmaker Broadcom. Facebook rose $1.85, or 1.5 percent, to $124.36, and Broadcom gained $2.88, or 1.8 percent, to $166.99.

Theme park operator SeaWorld said its revenue fell in the second quarter as guest numbers from Latin America dropped off amid economic turmoil there and bad weather. Its stock gave up $1.96, or 13.2 percent, to $12.88.

Callaway Golf jumped after sporting goods giant Nike surprised Wall Street by saying it will stop making golf equipment like clubs, golf balls and bags. Callaway climbed 42 cents, or 4 percent, to $11.