US stocks pause ahead of February jobs report

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Investors are waiting with bated breath for the February jobs report … at least if you’re reading into Thursday’s stock-market performance.

The S&P 500 ended the day up 0.08 per cent at 2,364.9, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed at 20,859,2 and the Nasdaq Composite inched up 0.05 per cent to 5,840.7.

Friday’s payrolls report from the labour department has taken on increased significance as expectations for a Federal Reserve rate rise this month have been ratcheted higher by recent hawkish comments among senior officials.

Wall Street economists reckon the world’s biggest developed market economy added about 200,000 jobs last month. Wage growth, which has become a closely watched indicator, is forecast to have climbed to a 2.7 per cent annual rate, from 2.5 per cent.

Action on Thursday in the fixed income market was more lively. The 10-year yield crossed above 2.6 per cent for the first time since mid-December, while the policy-sensitive 2-year yield ticked up to a 2009 high. Yields move in the opposite direction of prices.

In commodities, US crude oil settled down by $1 to $49.28 a barrel.

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