July 7, 2016 / 3:27 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-S&P, Dow little changed ahead of crucial jobs data

* Weekly jobless claims fall to 254,000 vs est 270,000

* Indexes up: Dow 0.04 pct, S&P 0.14 pct, Nasdaq 0.28 pcts (Adds details, comments, updates prices)

By Yashaswini Swamynathan

July 7 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Dow were little changed in late morning trading on Thursday while the Nasdaq was boosted by Apple, ahead of the crucial monthly jobs report.

Investors will keenly watch for Friday’s payrolls report, which includes both private and public employment numbers, especially after a shockingly weak May report raised concerns about the recovery of the U.S. economy and threw the Fed off track from its plans to raise rates in the near term.

After a roller-coaster ride sparked by Britain’s June 23 vote to leave the European Union, U.S. investors are looking for signs of the health of the economy and the possible impact of the vote on quarterly earnings.

“Investors are marking their time ahead of the jobs data,” said Terry Sandven, chief equities strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. “The wall of worry has been under full construction since the May jobs data, so tomorrow’s report will either suggest that the number was an anomaly or provide evidence of a weakening economy.”

U.S. private payrolls increased more than expected in June and fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, suggesting a rebound in job growth after May’s paltry gains.

While the cautious Fed is not expected to raise interest rates anytime soon, strong economic data will give the central banks reasons for its next move when it meets on July 26-27.

At 10:57 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7.4 points, or 0.04 percent, at 17,926.02.

The S&P 500 was up 2.84 points, or 0.14 percent, at 2,102.57.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 13.45 points, or 0.28 percent, at 4,872.61. Apple rose 0.6 percent and gave the biggest boost to the index.

“In some sense, migrating to the U.S. market has kind of been a bid to stability, relative to the rest of the global actions,” said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.

Seven of the 10 major S&P indexes were higher, with the energy index’s 0.58 percent rise leading the advancers.

Oil prices rose for the second straight day as U.S. crude oil inventories fell and the dollar weakened.

PepsiCo’s shares rose 2 percent to $108.14 after the company reported a better-than-expected second-quarter profit and raised its full-year profit forecast.

The beverage maker’s stock gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,963 to 882. On the Nasdaq, 1,708 issues rose and 880 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 32 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 50 new highs and 6 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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