Stocks drifted in and out of the plus column Wednesday, but ended with solid gains. Investors pulled in the reins a bit in anticipation of the employment numbers we'll get Friday morning, though a number of forecasters expect a much stronger increase in jobs added than we've seen in recent months.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI gained 40 points, ending just a whisker shy of its record high. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) added 8, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) rose 5 -- scoring a record for the second straight day.
The Dow was led upward by some old-line industrials. Caterpillar (CAT) gained nearly 3 percent and United Technologies (UTX) gained 1.5 percent.
But some of the big name tech stocks lost ground. IBM (IBM), Cisco Systems (CSCO) and Intel (INTC) all fell about half a percent.
General Motors (GM) rose 1.5 percent even though CEO Mary Barra was back on Capitol Hill for a second round of withering criticism for failing to recall cars with a dangerous fault.
Some of the actively traded Nasdaq stocks had a rough day. Twitter (TWTR) fell 3 percent, Yelp (YELP) fell 6 percent, LinkedIn (LNKD) lost 2.5 percent and Netflix (NFLX) edged lower. But Tesla (TSLA) rose 6 percent.
The big winner of the day was Mannkind (MNKD). The bio-pharmaceutical company soared 74 percent after winning FDA approval of its diabetes treatment.
Myriad Genetics (MYGN) rose 11.5 percent. Cuts to the Medicare reimbursement of its breast cancer test were not as steep as feared. And Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) added to Tuesday's big gain, up another 5 percent, following approval of its robotic surgical system.
On the downside, Apollo Education (APOL) fell 9 percent after it reported that enrollment continued to decline at its for-profit University of Phoenix. Even after the day's decline, Apollo shares are up 85 percent from a year ago.
A similar patter for Tyson Foods (TSN). It fell for a second straight day, down another 5 percent. But shares of the chicken and pork producer have jumped 25 percent already this year.
Finally, Time Warner Cable (TWC) gained 2 percent on reports it could be back in play because Comcast (CMCSK) stock has dropped so much since they agreed to a buyout price.
What to Watch Thursday:
The Commerce Department releases international trade data for February and the Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims, both at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m., the Institute for Supply Management releases its survey of service-sector businesses for March, and Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
7 Most-Missed Tax Deductions and Credits
After Market: Onward and Upward as We Wait for Jobs Numbers
Taxpayers may forget that donations they gave last year may get them a bigger refund. If you cleaned out your bulging closet and dropped off clothing or household goods at your favorite charity, this may be deductible on your tax return.
Taxpayers taking a full course load and working toward a degree can receive education benefits through the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college expenses. But even those who just took one class to further their career may be able to take the tuition and fees deduction. With this credit, you can deduct up to $4,000 for tuition and fees, books and educational supplies for you, your spouse or your dependents.
Taxpayers can deduct state income taxes, but what about residents of states that don't have a state income tax? In this case, the state and local sales tax deduction is especially useful because these taxpayers can deduct sales tax paid on purchases. Even people who live in states that pay state income tax can benefit if they paid more sales tax due to large purchases.
The earned income tax credit is a refundable tax credit given to filers who earn low to moderate income from their jobs. The credit can be worth up to $6,044, depending on your income and how many dependents you have, but one in five tax filers overlook this opportunity, according to the Internal Revenue Service. You must file your taxes to get it, so even if you make less than $10,000 (the minimum income filing requirement), you should still file your taxes.
If you were looking for a job last year, you may be able to deduct costs related to your job search -- even if you didn't secure a job. Job search expenses such as preparing and sending resumes, fees to placement agencies and even travel related to the job search can be included.
This credit is often overlooked and seldom talked about. If you have an income up to $29,500 ($59,000 for married filing jointly), you can save for retirement and get a tax credit worth up to $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for couples if you contributed to a qualifying retirement plan such as an individual retirement account or 401(k). The retirement saver's tax credit is a win-win situation since contributions to your IRA may also be a deduction from income.
Taxpayers who weren't so lucky gambling last year should know that losses can be deducted if they itemize their deductions. However, your amount of losses cannot surpass your winnings, which must be reported as taxable income. For example, if you have $2,000 in winnings and $4,000 in losses, your deduction is limited to $2,000. Make sure to collect documentation such as receipts, tickets and other records to support your losses.