NEW YORK – U.S. stocks wavered Thursday and finished barely higher as an interest rate cut by the Bank of England, a move intended to shore up the British economy, wasn’t enough to get investors out of their recent cautious mode.
Technology companies continued to make the biggest gains, as they’ve done over the last few months. Oil prices rose for the second day in a row, something that hadn’t happened for almost three weeks. Bank stocks fell the most, as the interest rate cut suggests they won’t be able to make as much money on lending. While the Bank of England’s moves sent European stocks higher, investors in U.S. stocks moved carefully as they waited for Friday’s jobs report.
Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, said investors were playing it safe as they waited for the Labor Department’s July employment report. Hiring in June was stronger than expected, but that followed shockingly weak job growth in May.
“The market has been surprised before and wants to make sure that they’re prepared in either direction,” Krosby said. “To get the market to move higher you need an underpinning of stronger economic growth.”
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 2.95 points to 18,352.05. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index inched up 0.46 points to 2,164.25. The Nasdaq composite rose 6.51 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,166.25.
Technology stocks have done better than the broader market in the spring and summer, and on Thursday they were led higher by companies including Facebook and communications chipmaker Broadcom. Facebook rose $1.85, or 1.5 percent, to $124.36, and Broadcom gained $2.88, or 1.8 percent, to $166.99.