US stocks ended slightly higher on Thursday ahead of the US monthly jobs report, as energy shares rebounded.
The S&P 500's slight gain came after three straight days of losses. The S&P 500 energy index rose 0.6 per cent, snapping two days of big losses, even as crude prices slid nearly 2.0 per cent.
Helping the market early in the day was a report that showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to 243,000 last week, but remained below 300,000 for the 105th week.
Friday's nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show 190,000 jobs were added in the US private and public sectors in February.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended up 2.46 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 20,858.19, the S&P 500 gained 1.89 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 2,364.87. The Nasdaq Composite added 1.26 points, or 0.02 per cent, to 5,838.81.
The S&P 500 financial index, which had boosted the market earlier in the day, cut gains in afternoon trading and ended up 0.3 per cent.
Johnson & Johnson was up 1.5 per cent after Jefferies raised its price target on the healthcare conglomerate's stock.
About 7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, roughly matching the daily average for the past 20 trading days.
NYSE declining issues outnumbered advancing ones by a 2.40-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 24 new 52-week highs and 14 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 64 new highs and 58 new lows, according to Reuters.