Stocks move modestly higher, pushing S&P 500 back to record

Stocks were moving moderately higher on Thursday, helped by gains in technology, industrial and other companies. Investors were working through a bit of positive economic data while awaiting the release of the big jobs report on Friday.

The S&P 500 index was up 0.3% as of 10:15 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2% and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.2%. Small-company stocks were doing better than the rest of the market, with the Russell 2000 index up 0.6%.

Big technology companies were inching higher. Apple added 1% while Netflix was up 2%.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 340,000, a pandemic low and another sign that the job market is steadily rebounding from the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a preview of what traders are waiting for on Friday, when they will get the August jobs report from the Labor Department. Economists are expecting that U.S. employers created 750,000 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.2%.

Bond yields were steady. The 10-year Treasury note was trading at a yield of 1.29% compared to 1.30% the day before.

Separately, the U.S. trade deficit narrowed slightly to $70.1 billion in July as economic recovery overseas helped boost American exports while imports declined.

Trading remains quiet as the summer holiday season comes to a close and Wall Street heads into a three-day holiday weekend. Trading is expected to pick up next week once traders are back from vacation. Typically September is one of the market’s more volatile months.