U.S. Stocks Close Higher Once Again

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Shares in the U.S. closed higher Tuesday, still supported by upbeat jobs data. But U.S. stocks were still rattled by declining crude oil prices, which fell 0.6% for oil to trade at $42.77 a barrel.

Falling crude oil prices sparked losses in the energy sector of the S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX), which fell 0.5%. Traders appeared focused on the weaker oil prices that rumors of OPEC members meeting next month for a possible output freeze didn’t seem to help. Energy was the biggest loser on the S&P 500 on Tuesday.

How the major indices moved

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) gained 0.02% to close the day at 18533.05. Tuesday’s session saw the blue-chip index move closer to its record closing attained on July 20.

Though rattled by falling energy stocks, the S&P 500 still managed to register a gain of about 0.1%. The tech-weighted NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) climbed 0.2% to close the day at 5225.48. With that, the NASDAQ sat pretty above its record level of 5221.12 attained on Friday.

Economic data

U.S. stocks rose on positive jobs report that showed employers added 255,000 jobs in July compared to 179,000 jobs that economists predicted for the month. The July jobs growth came on the back of a solid jobs growth in the prior month that saw employers create 292,000 in June.

But the support of the upbeat labor data was tempered with weak productivity data, which the Labor Department said fell 0.5% in the second quarter. That marked the third quarter in a row that the U.S. productivity metric dropped.

Experts now say that mixed economic data will likely usher in a period of volatility in U.S. equity markets.

“As long as the economic story really stays the same, we’ll keep having this benign drift where we set new highs every couple of weeks,” said Katrina Lamb of MV Financial.

“The market just keeps grinding along and moving in the same direction,” said Lee Ferridge, head of macro strategy for North America at State Street Global Markets.

Lee Ferridge of State Street Global Markets added that, “Markets are making new highs while investors are desperately searching for yield.”

Thin trading in U.S. stocks has also been linked to investors taking August vacation.

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