“This is a big piece of data as to what the Fed is looking for. If it shows up weak we may not get a rate hike,” said Scott Colyer, chief executive officer of Advisors Asset Management in Monument, Colorado, adding that stocks could rise on a strong jobs number as it would be a good sign for the economy.
"I think everybody wants them to move or not move. The month-to-month stuff is killing everybody," he said as the market has been whipsawed all year by speculation on timing of a rate hike.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 4.15 points, or 0.02 percent, to 17,863.43, the S&P 500 lost 2.38 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,099.93 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 14.74 points, or 0.29 percent, to 5,127.74.
Weak oil prices weighed on energy and a slump in gold and copper dragged on the materials sector. Energy shares led the S&P decline with a 1 percent drop. Interest-rate-sensitive utilities were the next weakest sector, followed by materials .
U.S. two-year Treasury yields hit their highest in 4-1/2 years on Thursday on intensifying expectations for a December Fed liftoff, while long-dated yields also rose on fresh corporate supply.