Market Meanders Ahead of Jobs Report

Stocks went nowhere on light volume Thursday, as traders braced for Friday’s all-important monthly jobs report.

Stocks were battered a month ago after an unexpected decline in August employment, but soared two weeks later after the Federal Reserve cut interest rates more than expected, in part because of the weak jobs report.

But if investors are looking for more rate cuts, Friday’s jobs report might not be much help. Economists believe the economy created 100,000 jobs in September, with unemployment ticking up a tenth to 4.7%. For a market that was seized by fears of a credit crunch over the summer, a quick rebound in employment could be viewed as good news.

Sprint Nextel gained 2.8% on reports that the company is looking to replace CEO Gary Forsee.

Isilon fell 19% after lowering its sales outlook.

CDC rose 8% after reporting an increase in online gaming.

Research In Motion was little changed after the close despite reporting that earnings and sales doubled in its most recent quarter. RIM also raised current quarter earnings and sales guidance. RIM’s shares gained 4.4% to $100.54 ahead of the report.

The Nasdaq added 4 to 2733, the S&P rose 3 to 1542, and the Dow tacked on 6 to 13,974. Volume declined to 2.67 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.74 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 19-12 margin on the NYSE, and 16-12 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 59% on the NYSE, and 52% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 76-64 on the NYSE, and 141-66 on the Nasdaq.

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