Investing.com – Stocks managed to rise for a second day in a row Thursday ahead of release of the important U.S. jobs report.
The small gains came after a weak open that saw the Dow fall as many as 87 points before a rally set in.
The rally seemed to be a bet that Friday's jobs report , due at 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT) will be a winner.
Analysts tracked by Investing.com expect the report to show the economy added 186,000 jobs in November, up from 128,000 jobs in October and 155,00 jobs in November 2018. The unemployment rate is projected to hold steady at 3.6%, unchanged from October and down slightly from December 2018.
Early in the day, the Labor Department said initial jobless claims fell to a seven-month low. And the Commerce Department said factory orders in October rose 0.3% from September. The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing report, released Monday, suggested U.S. manufacturing was slowing.
With Thursday's gain, the major averages are looking at small losses for the week.
But the S&P 500 is just 1.17% under its all-time high reached just before Thanksgiving, with the Dow at 1.76% below its peak, and the Nasdaq off 1.55% from its November all-time high.
Throughout the day, materials, financial and tech stocks were the market leaders.
There seemed to be little news on the U.S.-China trade talks except that both sides said they were still talking. In addition, President Donald Trump said "something could happen" on whether the United States will impose new tariffs on Chinese goods starting Dec. 15.
Saudi Aramco's initial public offering was priced Thursday giving the oil giant a market cap of $1.7 trillion, exceeding Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) current market cap of $1.2 trillion. But Saudi Arabia had originally hoped for a $2 trillion market cap. The shares are not available on U.S. exchanges.
Clothing company PVH (NYSE: PVH ), biotech company Biogen (NASDAQ: BIIB ), fashion company Ralph Lauren (NYSE: RL ) and tool-maker Stanley Black & Decker (NYSE: SWK ) were the top S&P 500 performers on the day.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALXN ), liquor-maker Brown Forman (NYSE: BFb ), networking company F5 Networks (NASDAQ: FFIV ) and fashion retailer L Brands (NYSE: LB ) were the weakest S&P 500 performers.
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