U.S. stock indexes on Thursday closed out August in the green, extending a recent uptrend and clawing back from a midmonth slump as previously dormant markets showed signs of volatility reemerging. Relatively upbeat economic data and hope of tax reform has been part of the catalyst that has helped to offer a lift to equities and shake of geopolitical worries. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
closed up 0.3% at 21,952, nearing the psychologically important level of 22,000, which it had hit mid August and marking its third straight gain. For the month, the Dow is up 0.3%, representing its fifth monthly gain in a row. The S&P 500 index
ended the session with a 0.6% gain, helping it to wrap up August with a gain of a little less than 0.1%, after starting the session on track to end in the red. The broad-market gauge is also scored its fifth monthly rise in a row. The Nasdaq Composite Index
finished about 1% higher at 6,428, and produced a monthly rise of 1.3%. The moves come ahead of a closely watched jobs report due Friday, among a few other data reports before the Labor Day holiday commences, with markets closed on Monday. Ahead of that data, consumer spending rose 0.3% last month, helped by higher incomes and low inflation. The pace of inflation, meanwhile, was little changed in July, up 0.1%. Initial jobless claims in the period running from Aug. 20 to Aug. 26 rose by 1,000 to 236,000, which is still close to a postrecession low, pointing to another solid monthly employment report near the end of summer. Official jobs report will be released Friday at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. In corporate news, shares of Walt Disney Co.
closed 1.6% lower following news that it is preparing significant budget cuts at its Disney/ABC Television Group that will include staff reductions and restructuring efforts.