Investors eye the US jobs report

U.S. stocks ended higher on Thursday as initial jobless claims dropped more than expected ahead of the release of August nonfarm payrolls data Friday.

The S&P 500 logged its 54th record close of the year even as it finished off the day’s highs, gaining 0.3% to 4,536.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4% to 35,443.82 while the Nasdaq Composite was higher by 0.1% at 15,331.18.

Treasuries price action was limited on Thursday as yields kept to narrow ranges over U.S. afternoon, leaving the curve slightly flatter. On outright basis, yields wound up within about a basis point of Wednesday’s close. Activity was muted as investors showed little risk appetite ahead of Friday’s August jobs report.

European stocks remained rangebound near all-time highs on Friday, ahead of U.S. jobs report that investors will analyze for clues on the direction of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy.

Stoxx 600 Europe Index rose 0.31% on Thursday, DAX increased by 0.10%, and CAC 40 gained 0.06%, while FTSE 100 rose by 0.20%.

Bunds pared gains driven by French and Spanish debt sales. Italian bonds advanced to within a basis point of erasing this week’s drop, which was spurred by a host of hawkish comments from ECB speakers including Robert Holzmann on Tuesday.

Asian stocks advanced for a sixth day, heading for their longest winning streak in nine months, as hardware technology giants rallied. Asian stocks are set to complete a two-week advance ahead of a U.S. jobs report. Sentiment in Asia has improved since late August amid expectations that any tapering by the Federal Reserve will be done gradually.

Oil prices were mixed on Friday after a strong rise in the previous session on a weaker dollar and a fall in U.S. crude stocks and were set for modest weekly gains ahead of a highly anticipated U.S. monthly jobs report.

Brent crude futures price was $73.03 a barrel on Thursday, up 2.01%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures stood at $69.99 down 2.04%.