Stocks are showing a lack of direction in morning trading on Thursday, extending the lackluster performance seen over the past several sessions. The major averages have been bouncing back and forth across the unchanged line.
Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Dow is down 21.56 points or 0.1 percent at 20,936.34, the Nasdaq is up 0.50 points or less than 0.1 percent at 6,073.05 and the S&P 500 is up 1.42 points or 0.1 percent at 2,389.55.
The choppy trading on Wall Street comes ahead of the release of the Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday.
Employment is expected to increase by 180,000 jobs in April after rising by 98,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 4.6 percent from 4.5 percent.
Traders are also keeping an eye on developments in Washington, as House Republicans prepare to vote on a revised bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Republican leaders have expressed confidence the bill has enough support to pass, but reports suggest the vote is likely to be extremely close.
On the economic front, a report released by the Labor Department showed that first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell by more than anticipated in the week ended April 29th.
The report said initial jobless claims dropped to 238,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 257,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 247,000.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department released a separate report showing an unexpected drop in labor productivity in the first quarter along with a bigger than expected jump in unit labor costs.
The Labor Department said productivity fell by 0.6 percent in the first quarter after surging up by a revised 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter. Economists had expected productivity to come in unchanged.
The report also said unit labor costs spiked by 3.0 percent in the first quarter following a revised 1.3 percent increase in the fourth quarter. Unit…