Overnight, Wall Street had another wobbly day of trading. Modest gains nudged the market's winning streak to a sixth straight day. Markets have been wobbly throughout the week as investors wait for the U.S. government's jobs report on Friday and prepare for a new round of corporate earnings reports next week.
New government data on Thursday showing applications for unemployment aid fell last week to a 49-year low likely means Friday's jobs report will show a strong rebound in hiring after a weak February, said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors.
The S&P 500 index rose 0.2%, to 2,879.39. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.6% to 26,384.63. The Nasdaq fell 0.1%,to 7,891.78, while the Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 0.4%, to 1,567.49.
Major indexes in Europe finished mostly lower. Investors are also keeping a close watch on the latest rounds of U.S.-China trade negotiations. President Donald Trump said Thursday that the two sides were "rounding the turn" in the talks, which resumed Wednesday in Washington.
No details were announced but Trump said after meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He that "something monumental" could be announced within weeks. Liu, China's top trade negotiator, told Trump that "because of your direct involvement, we do have great progress."
The dispute over technology policy, involving punitive tariffs imposed by both sides, has rattled markets and cast a pall over the outlook for the global economy. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 111.71 Japanese yen from 111.58 yen. The euro weakened to $1.1225 from $1.1240.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 12 cents to $61.98 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped 0.6% to settle at $62.10 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, used to price international oils, shed 12 cents to $69.13 per barrel.