A look at the day's business news headlines:
Stocks sag ahead of monthly jobs report
Stocks finished mixed after a sluggish session Thursday afternoon, as cautious investors paused and geared up for the monthly jobs report due Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) closed down 19 points, or 0.2 percent. The blue chip index started off the day with a pop and was less than 2 points shy of the 11,000 mark, a level it hasn't traded at since May. But the Dow drifted as the session wore on and sank almost 75 points before recovering.
The S&P 500 (SPX) lost 2 points, or 0.2 percent, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq (COMP) added 3 points, or 0.1 percent.
Stocks surged earlier this week, with all three major indexes hitting 5-month highs. But investors have had trouble keeping up that momentum, as reports showed continued weakness in the labor market.
Bonds mixed as investors await jobs report
Yields of shorter-dated Treasurys fell Thursday as investors turned to the safety of government debt ahead of the monthly payrolls data.
A report Thursday showed new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest level in almost three months. But a separate report showed that though the number of job openings increased slightly in August, there was no real improvement of the odds that unemployed workers will find a job.
The previous session also brought two disappointing jobs reports. Private sector employers cut 39,000 jobs in September, according to Automatic Data Processing. Additionally, Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.'s report showed employers planned on cutting another 37,151 employees in September.
The mixed jobs data made investors cautious ahead of Friday's monthly government report on payrolls and the unemployment rate. The labor market has been lagging, and it's difficult for the overall economy to bounce back when Americans are struggling to find jobs.
– CNNMoney.com reporters Julianne Pepitone and Ben Rooney contributed to this report.