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US: Stocks flat ahead of April jobs report

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished little changed Thursday as investors avoided new bets ahead of Friday's April US jobs report.

Stocks had opened higher, but the morning rally soon fizzled. Investors fear Friday's jobs report will not be strong enough to show economic growth is picking up after a sluggish first quarter.

"I don't think anyone wants to take a position ahead of the job data tomorrow," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial.

"Tomorrow could mean the end of the pullback or the pullback accelerating." The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.1 per cent to 17,660.71.

The broad-based S&P 500 dropped less than 0.1 per cent to 2,050.63, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.2 per cent at 4,717.09.

Tesla Motors stumbled 5.0 per cent as analysts reacted skeptically to the electric car maker's announcement that it was moving up by two years to 2018 its timeframe for building 500,000 cars in a year. "We do not believe Tesla will be able to achieve 500,000 units of total production in 2018," said a note from JPMorgan Chase.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, which is listed in the US, jumped 4.0 per cent as it reported a 39 per cent surge in revenues to US$3.75 billion, defying both China's economic slowdown and increasing competition in the world's biggest e-commerce market. Yahoo, which owns a stake, rose 2.6 per cent.

Kraft Heinz climbed 3.7 per cent as it said cost-cutting initiatives following the merger of the two food giants were progressing more quickly than expected, offsetting the effects of weak demand for some key products.

Wearables company Fitbit plunged 18.8 per cent as it projected second-quarter per-share earnings of eight to 11 cents, well below the 26 cents per share expected by analysts. The forecast raised worries about rising operating costs.

AFP