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NewsBreak: U.S. Stocks Struggle to Earn Gains – Stocks were holding onto small gains Thursday afternoon after climbing back from early losses a day before Labor Department's monthly report on payroll employment and unemployment.

The S&P 500 and the Dow were up very slightly -- about 0.15% each -- at 3:20 p.m. ET (29:20 GMT). The Nasdaq Composite was barely positive while the Nasdaq 100 index was showing a 0.1% gain. The Dow had been down as many as 87 points early in the day after gaining 147 points on Wednesday.

Materials, financials and techs were the strongest sectors, with consumer staples and energy the weakest.

Helping the market along was a bullish Labor Department report on initial jobless claims, which fell to a seven-month low. In addition, President Donald Trump said "something could happen" on whether the United States will impose new tariffs on Chinese goods starting Dec. 15. Saudi Aramco's initial public offering was priced Thursday giving the oil giant a market cap of $1.7 trillion, exceeding Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) current market cap of $1.2 trillion. But Saudi Arabia had originally hoped for a $2 trillion market cap. The shares are not available on U.S. exchanges.

The Labor Department's job report will come out at 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT). Analysts tracked by expect the report to show the economy added 186,000 jobs in November, up from 128,000 jobs in October and 155,00 jobs in November 2018. The unemployment rate is projected to hold steady at 3.6%, unchanged from October and down slightly from December 2018.

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