Stocks close down on job-creation data
Wall Street ended a record-breaking week quietly Friday, edging lower after the Labor Department said employers added far fewer jobs than expected last month. The major indexes all scored big gains for the week.
While the jobs report gave investors further confirmation that the economy is slowing — employers created just 51,000 new jobs last month, well off the 120,000 Wall Street expected — the market is now concerned that the economy might be moderating too much.
Even the prospects of a rate cut by the Federal Reserve came as little comfort Friday.
“We’ve had a market that wants to see bad news as good news with respect to the Fed,” said Bryan Piskorowski, a market analyst at Wachovia Securities LLC. “(Now the) economy is slowing, the housing market is slowing, consumer spending is starting to slow. You run that tightwire where bad news eventually becomes bad news.”
Investors concerned about the jobs report Friday were also disappointed by news of the resignation of a General Motors Corp. board member who lobbied unsuccessfully for an alliance with other automakers.
But hopes for a Fed rate cut as well as a further decline in oil prices helped drive the 30-stock Dow Jones industrial average to three straight record high closes this week. The blue chips also set new intraday highs. Broader indexes also showed robust gains, though remained well below their all-time highs.
The Dow was down 16.48, or 0.14 percent, at 11,850.21 Friday, slightly below the record close of 11,866.69 set the day before.
Broader stock indicators also fell Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was down 3.64, or 0.27 percent, at 1,349.58, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 6.35, or 0.28 percent, to 2,299.99.
The week was a memorable one for investors, with the Dow finally recovering from the dot-com meltdown early in the decade, recession and then the Sept. 11 , 2001, terror attacks. Corporate malfeasance made household names of companies like Enron Corp. and further undermined investor confidence before more than four years of solid corporate profit growth helped rebuild the Dow. Most recently, the Fed’s decision to stand pat on interest rates bolstered investor enthusiasm.
The Dow, which also set a trading high Thursday of 11,870.06, rose 1.47 percent for the week, while the S&P gained 1.03 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1.84 percent. Despite the overall gains in the market, the S&P stands about 12 percent below its high close of 1,527.46 and the Nasdaq is even further off, about 54 percent below its March 2000 high of 5,048.62.
Bonds fell Friday, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rising to 4.70 percent from 4.61 percent late Thursday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was down 3.27, or 0.44 percent, at 739.81.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers by about 2 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.57 billion shares, compared with 1.73 billion traded Thursday.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 0.08 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed down 0.05 percent, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.17 percent, and France’s CAC-40 was down 0.12 percent.