Financial Markets Wall Street

Santa walks the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday before joining Marine Toys for Tots opening bell ceremonies. Stocks closed Thursday with slight gains.

Wall Street capped a wobbly day of trading Thursday with slight gains for the major stock indexes as technology companies and banks outweighed declines elsewhere in the market.

The muted trading came as investors looked ahead to a key government report on jobs and kept an eye on developments in the negotiations to end the trade war between the U.S. and China.

Investors are hoping that the world’s two biggest economies will reach a trade deal before new U.S. tariffs go into effect Dec. 15 on some popular products made in China, including smartphones.

They’re also looking for more clarity on the health of the economy. They’ll get a better sense of that today, when the Labor Department issues its November tally of hiring by nonfarm employers.

“You’ve had some mixed economic data this week, so the market probably wants to wait and see what we get tomorrow morning,” said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird.

The S&P 500 index rose 4.67 points, or 0.2%, to 3,117.43. Even with the latest gain, the benchmark index is on track for a weekly loss, though it’s still up 24.4% for the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 28.01 points, or 0.1%, to 27,677.79.

The Nasdaq added 4.03 points, less than 0.1%, to 8,570.70. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks picked up 0.94 points, also less than 0.1%, to 1,614.83.

Wall Street has been assessing disappointing economic data this week in the lead-up to today’s highly anticipated jobs report. Economists expect the unemployment rate to hold steady at 3.6%.