Stocks barely closed positively ahead of Friday’s big jobs report.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 14,937.4, +6.6, +0.0%
  • S&P 500: 1,655.0, +2.0, +0.1%
  • NASDAQ: 3,658.7, +9.7, +0.2%

And now, the top stories:

  • Two reports this morning made everyone feel a bit giddy about the U.S. job market.
  • Initial weekly jobless claims fell to 323,000 from 332,000 a week ago. This was lower than the 330,000 expected by economists. The four-week moving average has fallen to 328,500, down from 331,500 a week ago. This is the lowest level since October 2007.
  • The August ISM services index unexpectedly jumped to 58.6 in August from 56.0 in July. Business activity and orders indicators both gained. But the employment sub-index surged to 57.0 from 53.2 in July.
  • “While the ISM employment measures are not the best m/m indicator of employment growth, they are certainly consistent with a strengthening trend,” said UBS’s Drew Matus. “Taken with the continued improvement in jobless claims along with other recent positive labour-related data, we have pushed up our payroll forecast for August. We now expect 210k on payrolls (cons: 180k), up from our earlier 170k estimate.”
  • The ADP’s employment change survey was a bit lighter than expected. ADP estimated 176,000 jobs were added in August, which compared to economists’ estimate for a 184,000 read.
  • In other big but overlooked news, interest rates continued to march higher. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield got as high as 2.9918%. This is the highest level in at least two years.
  • NYU’s Aswath Damodaran, the legendary finance professor who sold Apple at the top and bought Facebook at the bottom, has just unveiled his fair price for Tesla: $US67.12.

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