New York Report: Dow creeping towards special 17,000 mark

US stocks yesterday ended one of their flattest sessions in years as a positive read on private sector employment wasn’t enough to interest buyers ahead of the highly anticipated June payrolls report.

The Dow ended 0.2 per cent below the landmark 17,000 points, at 16,976.24, the S&P 500 gained 0.07 per cent, to 1,974.62 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.917 or 0.02 per cent, to 4,457.734.

“The odds are pretty good that we’ll break through 17,000 soon, but people are hesitant to put on big bets ahead of the payroll report, especially with market liquidity so thin,” said Jim McDonald, who oversees $915bn as chief investment strategist at Chicago-based Northern Trust Global Investments.

The S&P utilities sector suffered its biggest one-day decline since May and was by far the worst performer among the 10 industry sectors. The group fell two per cent as traders gambled that the labour data indicated a stronger economy and the potential for higher interest rates. Utilities, because of their typically steep dividend yields, are a market favourite in a low interest rate environment.

Constellation Brands was one of the S&P 500’s biggest percentage gainers, up 2.3 per cent to $90.45 after reporting earnings beat expectations.

JP Morgan Chase fell one per cent to $56.97 after chief executive officer Jamie Dimon said he had been diagnosed with early stage throat cancer, but would remain actively involved in the largest US bank’s business while in treatment.