Wall St closes lower ahead of jobs data

United States stocks erased earlier gains to close slightly lower as investors digested upbeat US auto sales figures ahead of a closely-watched US labour market report due to be released at the end of the week.

United States stocks erased earlier gains to close slightly lower as investors digested upbeat US auto sales figures ahead of a closely-watched US labour market report due to be released at the end of the week.

The auto sales figures initially sparked a rally on Wall Street, but were later overtaken by cautious traders wary of what impact the labour data may have on the US economic outlook.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 42.55 points, or 0.28%, to 14,932.41 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 was flat, down 0.88 points, or 0.05%, to 1,614.08 points.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was also flat, down 1.09 points, or 0.03%, to close at 3,433.40 points.

US auto sales accelerated in June with General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and Toyota posting strong gains as analysts forecast more growth in the months to come.

Toyota led the pack with a 14% gain to 195,235 vehicles in June. Sales for the first half of the year were up 6% at 1.1 million vehicles.

Some analysts predicted quiet trading in light of the US Independence Day holiday Thursday, with a shortened session slated for Wednesday.

"The vacation factor can be cited as another reason for the lack of conviction," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

However, markets will be busy Friday assessing the June nonfarm payroll figures, typically the most influential monthly US economic report.

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