NEW YORK — Investors moved back into stocks after a four-day slide on hopes that a key government report on unemployment will confirm that the economy is gaining strength.
The Dow Jones industrial average tacked on 64 points Thursday after sliding 300 points since Friday. Stocks held to a tight range for much of the day in light trading as some investors squeezed in late-summer vacations. Those remaining braced for the August jobs report, which is due before the opening bell today.
Economists expect the unemployment rate to edge up to 9.5 percent from 9.4 percent.
Trading has been jittery in the past two weeks because some investors who have placed big bets on a recovery are worried that unemployment will make it hard for the economy to pull out of the recession.
By last month, major stock indicators such as the Standard & Poor's 500 index had jumped more than 50 percent from 12-year lows in early March. Analysts say the latest slide was a necessary adjustment for the market, even though it erased only about two weeks' worth of gains. The Dow rose 63.94, or 0.7 percent, to 9,344.61. The S&P 500 rose 8.49, or 0.9 percent, to 1,003.24, while the Nasdaq rose 16.13, or 0.8 percent, to 1,983.20.
Oil fell 9 cents to settle at $67.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.