US STOCKS-Wall St ends up slightly, investors await jobs data, earnings
* September factory activity slips in U.S., China
* Oil prices fall 0.8 percent, reversing energy rally
* Indexes down: Dow 0.08 percent, S&P 0.2 percent, Nasdaq 0.15 percent (Updates to close, adds commentary)
By Sinead Carew
Oct 1 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed slightly higher on Thursday in a choppy start to the fourth quarter as investors waited for the monthly U.S. jobs report and the quarterly earnings season.
After starting with a brief rally, stocks fell before edging up again after the latest in a spate of volatile trading days for an equities market where rallies quickly evaporate amid uncertainty about the global economy and U.S. interest rates.
Many investors were holding fire ahead of Friday's crucial U.S. nonfarm payrolls data and the third-quarter earnings season which starts with Alcoa Inc's report on Oct. 8.
"We're going to get a number investors can sink their teeth into tomorrow and next week kicks off earnings season which is vitally important to the direction of stocks for the rest of the year," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
The jobs number should give investors reassurance about the U.S. economy and clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will raise U.S. interest rates this month, according to Ablin. Continuación...