Wall Street lower despite jobs figures

NYSE traders Image copyright Reuters

(Close): US stocks closed fractionally down on Thursday, despite good news on the jobs front.

According to the Labor Department, slightly fewer people filed for US unemployment benefits last week. The total fell by 1,000 to a seasonally adjusted 261,000.

Even so, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 33.07 points to 18,448.41.

The wider S&P 500 index slipped 2.97 points to 2,172.47, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 5.49 to 5,212.20.

For the second day in a row shares in healthcare companies came under pressure, falling by 0.8%.

Having lost 5.4% on Wednesday, shares in pharmaceutical company Mylan closed down 0.7% as the company continued to face pressure over the price of its EpiPen allergy treatment.

Investor attention

Investors appear to be remaining cautious this week ahead of a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen is due to use the occasion make a speech on Friday which will be studied for clues as to the timing of the next US interest rate rise.

"Clearly, the Fed is in the driver's seat. They have the stage to command investor attention in Jackson Hole," said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, in New York.

"The division among the voting members of the (Federal Open Market Committee monetary policymakers) is very, very clear and there is nothing we have seen in recent data that would tilt the argument to the one side of raising or the other side of remaining unchanged in September," he added.