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US: Dow edges to record, Nasdaq drops ahead of jobs data

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower on Thursday ahead of the key US jobs report, although the Dow narrowly edged to its seventh straight record close.

Analysts expect the US added 181,000 jobs in July and that the unemployment rate ticked down a tenth to 4.3 per cent.

The report will be scrutinised as to whether it boosts the odds of an additional Federal Reserve rate hike this year.

"The most important piece of economic data of the week comes out tomorrow," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "There are no major moves one way or the other."

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A day after topping 22,000 for the first time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose less than 0.1 per cent to end the session at 22,026.10, a gain of less than 10 points but still a new all-time high.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2 per cent to 2,472.16, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.4 per cent to 6,340.34.

Stocks were under pressure all day, and lurched lower following a Wall Street Journal report about 30 minutes before the closing bell saying the special counsel had convened a grand jury in Washington to investigate Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election and whether President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

However, the Dow fought its way back into positive terrain in the final minutes of trading.

Tesla Motors jumped 6.5 per cent as chief executive Elon Musk expressed confidence the company would meet expectations on production of its Model 3, its first electric car offered at a moderate price point.

Generics drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries plummeted 17.8 per cent after cutting its full-year profit forecast and announcing it would slash its dividend.

Avon Products sank 10.7 per cent as it announced that Sheri McCoy would step down as chief executive in March following pressure from activist investors. The cosmetics company reported a quarterly loss of US$45.5 million.

Petroleum-linked shares tumbled on lower oil prices. Halliburton shed 1.9 per cent, Devon Energy 3.4 per cent and ConocoPhillips 1.5 per cent.

AFP

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