New York Report: Investors wait on jobs report for Fed hints

US STOCKS ended little changed last night in a choppy session ahead of today’s payrolls report, which may provide insights into whether the Federal Reserve will announce another cut in quantitative easing at its meeting this month.

Retail and telecom stocks ranked among the day’s biggest losers. The S&P retail sector index slipped 0.2 per cent after a number of retailers, including Bed Bath & Beyond and Family Dollar, slashed their earnings forecasts. The S&P telecom services sector index fell 1.9 per cent, pulled lower by AT&T and Verizon Communications, which were the top decliners in the Dow Jones industrial average.

Nonfarm payrolls are expected to have added 196,000 jobs last month, according to a Reuters survey of economists, slightly below November’s count of 203,000. Hiring would, however, be above the monthly average of 188,545 jobs over the first 11 months of 2013.

The US Federal Reserve said last month it would begin trimming its stimulative monthly bond purchases. Minutes from the Fed’s most recent meeting showed top officials were keen to steer a delicate path and many of them stressed that future decisions were not set in stone.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 17.98 points or 0.11 per cent, to end at 16,444.76.

The S&P 500 inched up just 0.64 of a point, or 0.03 per cent, to finish at 1,838.13.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 9.417 points or 0.23 per cent, to close at 4,156.20.