US stocks barely budge ahead of monthly jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are hardly changed Thursday as the market continues the small moves it's made in the last few weeks. European stocks rose and the British pound slid after the Bank of England moved to shore up the British economy after the nation's vote to leave the European Union....

 
              This July 6, 2015 photo shows a sign for Wall Street carved into the side of a building, in New York.  Global stocks rose and the British pound fell Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 after the Bank of England unveiled stimulus measures to help the economy deal with the uncertainty over the vote to leave the European Union. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are hardly changed Thursday as the market continues the small moves it's made in the last few weeks. European stocks rose and the British pound slid after the Bank of England moved to shore up the British economy after the nation's vote to leave the European Union. Container makers are rising and banks are slipping.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 25 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,330 as of 2:22 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1 point to 2,162. The Nasdaq composite gained 3 points to 5,163. The Nasdaq is flat this week while the Dow and S&P 500 are lower.

THE QUOTE: Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, said investors were playing it safe as they waited for the Labor Department's July employment report, to be released Friday morning. The report for 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," she said. "To get the market to move higher you need an underpinning of stronger economic growth."

STIMULUS IN THE UK: The Bank of England cut interest rates to new lows and unveiled a raft of stimulus measures that include resuming a bond-buying program to pump money into the economy and offering cheap loans to banks. The measures seemed to exceed investors' expectations, and the bank said the measures could be expanded later if it proves necessary.

The Bank of England is trying to counter the shock of Britain's vote to leave the European Union in late June. Britain's central bank hadn't cut interest rates since the financial crisis.

The pound fell to $1.3111 from $1.3317 on Wednesday. Bank shares also lost ground, as lower interest rates reduce the amount of money they can make from lending.

UNEMPLOYMENT: Applications for unemployment aid rose to 269,000, a level close to historical lows and a positive sign for the job market. While the pace of hiring and economic growth slowed in the first half of the year, consumers may boost spending in the months to come.

MATERIAL WORLD: Materials companies made some of the biggest gains. Ball Corp., which makes metal and plastic packaging for food and drink companies, jumped $7.91, or 11.3 percent, to $78.01 after its quarterly profit was larger than expected. Packaging company WestRock rose $1.28, or 3.1 percent, to $43.23 and glass container maker Owens-Illinois gained 32 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $18.92.

SQUARE ONE: Mobile payments company Square climbed after it reported strong second-quarter results and raised its projections for the year. The stock rose $1.08, or 10.3 percent, to $11.52.

TRIPADVISOR TUMBLES: Travel website operator TripAdvisor reported lower revenue growth and profit margins in the second quarter, disappointing analysts. The company also cited terrorism as among the events that are making it harder to predict how its business will perform in the near future. Its stock lost $5.65, or 8.1 percent, to $63.84.

JACK CHOWS DOWN: Burger chain Jack in the Box reported better-than-expected results and raised its forecasts for the year. Its stock gained $9.22, or 10.5 percent, to $96.95.

NOT A BIG SPLASH: Theme park operator SeaWorld said its revenue fell in the second quarter as guest numbers from Latin America dropped off amid economic turmoil there and bad weather. Its stock gave up $2.03, or 13.7 percent, to $12.81.

FORE!: Callaway Golf jumped after sporting goods giant Nike surprised Wall Street by saying it will stop making golf equipment like clubs, golf balls and bags. Nike said it will focus on apparel and shoes instead. Callaway surged 64 cents, or 6 percent, to $11.22. Nike picked up 9 cents to $54.84.

SUNDOWN: Solar panel maker First Solar stumbled despite a strong second-quarter report, as it lowered its profit projection for the full year. The stock declined $6.10, or 12.4 percent, to $43.14.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 98 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $41.81 per barrel in New York. It rose more than 3 percent Wednesday and it has been almost two weeks since oil prices rose for two days in a row. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, added $1.04, or 2.4 percent, to $44.14 a barrel in London.

METALS: The price of gold rose $2.70 to $1,367.40 an ounce. Silver fell 3 cents to $20.44 an ounce. Copper lost 2 cents to $2.17 a pound.

OVERSEAS: Britain's FTSE 100 rose 1.6 percent. Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40 both rose 0.6 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 finished 1.1 percent higher. South Korea's Kospi added 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.4 percent.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.51 percent from 1.54 percent. The dollar inched up to 101.19 yen from 101.13 yen and the euro dipped to $1.1132 from $1.1145.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay

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