May 24, 2018
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Wall Street ends up in volatile trade ahead of jobs data

By Caroline Valetkevitch, Reuters

NEW YORK — U.S. stocks rose on Thursday, with the Dow swinging nearly 200 points from its session low to high and the S&P 500 recovering after hitting a key technical level in volatile trading a day before the release of the U.S. jobs report.

Market volatility has increased recently and the S&P 500 has lost 3 percent since Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s comments two weeks ago that the central bank may decide to reduce stimulus in the next few policy meetings if data shows the economy is improving. The move follows a rally for much of this year, largely on the Fed’s continued stimulus actions.

The session’s best performers included financials and health care, with each of those S&P sector indexes ending up 1.4 percent.

Economists expect the non-farm payrolls report on Friday will show job growth of 170,000 in May, slightly above April’s addition of 165,000 positions. They expect the U.S. unemployment rate will remain steady at 7.5 percent. The jobs report will come one hour before U.S. stock trading begins on Friday.

When stocks turned lower earlier in Thursday’s session, that reflected some concerns by investors that the May reading could be weaker than expected and signal softness in the labor market.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 80.03 points, or 0.53 percent, to close at 15,040.62. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 13.66 points, or 0.85 percent, to finish at 1,622.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 22.58 points, or 0.66 percent, to end at 3,424.05.

The S&P 500 is up 13.8 percent so far this year after repeatedly hitting record highs.

American Express was among the Dow’s top gainers, rising 2 percent to $76.24.

Retail stocks rose, with major U.S. chains reporting monthly sales that were largely in line with expectations. Shares of Costco Wholesale Corp. rose 1.8 percent to $111.09, while the S&P retail index shot up 1.2 percent.


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