Wall Street wrapped up another wobbly day of trading Wednesday with modest gains for the major stock indexes, as energy and technology companies kept losses elsewhere in the market in check.
The benchmark S&P 500 rose 0.1% after wobbling between a gain of 0.4% and a loss of 0.1%. Strength in technology, energy and real estate stocks offset a pullback in retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending. Communication, industrial and materials stocks also fell. Treasury yields mostly eased after rising a day earlier.
Movie theater operator AMC Entertainment nearly doubled in another bout of heavy trading as the company embraced its status as a “meme” stock being driven higher by hordes of individual investors. Other stocks like GameStop that have been championed on online message boards and social media also rose.
The market’s modest moves for the second straight day come as investors look ahead to Friday’s U.S. jobs report, which the market hopes will lead to fresh clues about the Federal Reserve’s next interest rate policy moves later this month, when the central bank holds its next meeting of policymakers.
“Payrolls will hopefully help to clarify where the Fed stands,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo Investment Institute. “Until then, it’s going to be hard for the market to find a real direction, with the exception of the small-cap meme stocks.”
The S&P 500 rose 6.08 points to 4,208.12. The index is coming off its fourth straight monthly increase. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 25.07 points, or 0.1%, to 34,600.38. The Nasdaq recovered from an early slide, adding 19.85 points, or 0.1%, to 13,756.33.
Small-company stocks also notched modest gains. The Russell 2000 index rose 3.09 points, or 0.1%, to 2,297.83.
Economists are projecting that Friday’s Labor Department report will show employers added more than 650,000 jobs last month. Expectations of a strong increase in hiring have stoked worries about inflation and how the Fed may respond to it. The concern is that the global recovery could be hampered if governments and central banks have to withdraw stimulus to combat rising prices.
Bond yields edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 1.59% from 1.61% late Tuesday.
Technology companies did much of the heavy lifting for the S&P 500. Chipmaker Nvidia rose 3.2%. Payments processor Visa gained 1.3% after giving investors an encouraging financial update.
Energy companies also made broad gains as oil prices ticked more than 1% higher. Occidental Petroleum rose 2.7% and Schlumberger led all S&P 500 stocks with a 7.7% gain.
Etsy jumped 7.1% for one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after the online crafts marketplace said it will buy Depop, an app that’s popular among young people looking to buy and sell used clothing and vintage fashions from the early 2000s.