The broader U.S. stock market was flat after an earlier rebound fizzled out on Thursday on concerns about technology spending in the new year and anxiety that Friday's payrolls data will offer fresh evidence the economy is headed into a recession.
Nasdaq was on track for its longest losing streak since August, weighed down by a sharp drop in shares of Intel Corp.. The world's No. 1 semiconductor maker, a standout in 2007, has fallen more than 8 percent in two days, after Bank of America downgraded a host of chipmakers.
A report by ADP Employer Services, which is watched closely as a precursor to Friday's monthly government jobs data, showed the private sector added 40,000 workers to payrolls in December, not far from analysts' expectations. Stocks managed to stage a rebound after the data, but as the close of trading approached the meager rally fizzled, although the Dow was slightly higher.
The numbers, by my pencil, were shockingly weak yesterday, but today's claims number and the ADP came in a little bit stronger, said Jeffrey Saut, Raymond James Financial chief investment strategist, in St. Petersburg. The real question is whether the overspent, undersaved U.S. consumer is finally sated, or are they willing to take on any more debt at any price.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 9.43 points, or 0.07 percent, at 13,053.39. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 0.66 points, or 0.05 percent, at 1,446.50. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 11.65 points, or 0.45 percent, at 2,597.98.