S&P ends flat ahead of jobs report
NEW YORK — The S&P 500 ended nearly flat on Thursday as investors paused ahead of Friday’s jobs report, though gains in Internet shares helped lift the Nasdaq.
The Dow eased back into negative territory for the year, a day after closing at its first record high of 2014.
The April jobs report, which is expected to show U.S. employment rose at its fastest clip in five months based on a Reuters survey of economists, could further confirm the economic momentum is back on track after a dismal winter.
Thursday’s U.S. April car sales showed a rebound from the winter, and General Motors shares gained 1.2 percent to $34.90. They followed an upbeat view of the economy from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday.
Facebook, up 2.3 percent at $61.15, and other Internet shares were among the day’s best performers, helped by strong results from Yelp, whose shares gained 9.8 percent to $64.02.
Tech shares had sold off in recent weeks on concerns that they, along with biotech “momentum” names, were overvalued. The Nasdaq lost 2 percent in April compared with the Dow and S&P 500’s slight gains.
“Some of the growth names are coming back. They’ve been really kind of beaten down mercilessly, and I think (the bounce) has to do with the fact that earnings are being perceived as OK in some of those sectors,” said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Delta Global Asset Management in Boston.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21.97 points or 0.13 percent, to 16,558.87, the S&P 500 lost 0.27 points or 0.01 percent, to 1,883.68 and the Nasdaq Composite added 12.896 points or 0.31 percent, to 4,127.451.
Among other Internet gainers, TripAdvisor Inc added 3.4 percent to $83.50 while Amazon.com rose 1.2 percent to $307.89. The Global X Social Media index ETF rose 2.5 percent.
After the bell, however, shares of LinkedIn fell 2.7 percent to $156.85 after it forecast 2014 revenue below analysts’ expectations. Expedia shares dipped 1.5 percent to $72.80 even as its adjusted profit topped expectations.
During the regular session, the biggest drag on the S&P 500 was Exxon Mobil, which declined 1 percent to $101.41 despite reporting first-quarter earnings that exceeded expectations.
DirecTV Inc rose 4.1 percent to $80.76 after the Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T Inc had approached the company about a possible acquisition. Shares of AT&T dipped 0.3 percent to $35.58.
Early Thursday, jobless claims unexpectedly rose in the latest week, though the underlying trend continued to point to an improving labor market. U.S. consumer spending recorded its largest increase in more than four and a half years in March.
About 6.4 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.7 billion average of the last five days, according to data from BATS Global Markets.