NEW YORK – U.S. stocks fell on Friday, with the S&P 500 index sustaining its worst weekly hit this year, after the government said far fewer Americans found jobs in March than analysts had estimated.
“Welcome back to tempered expectations. We don’t think the wheels have fallen off the economy, but we don’t think it ever had the momentum that some people believed,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland. “That’s what makes for market corrections,” he added.
Payrolls increased by 88,000 last month following a revised 268,000 gain in February, with the disappointing report following two others this week that also cast a negative view on the labor market.
“We can now add the monthly employment report to the growing list of data points that simply haven’t met expectations,” Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG LLC in New York, said in emailed comments.
The Dow Jones industrial average recovered the lion’s share of the day’s losses to end at 14,565.25, down 0.3 percent for the session and 0.1 percent for the week.
Eighteen of the blue-chip index’s 30 components lost ground, including Alcoa Inc., which unofficially starts the first-quarter earnings-reporting season on Monday, after the market close.
Down 1 percent for the week, its largest weekly loss since December, the S&P 500 index declined 6.7 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,553.28.
F5 Networks Inc. plummeted 19 percent a day after projecting second-quarter earnings and revenue well below consensus estimates.
The Nasdaq composite lost 21.12 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,203.86, with the technology-heavy index off 2 percent for the week, its biggest weekly drop since the week ended Nov. 9, 2012.
The recent series of less-than-hoped-for economic reports increases the odds that the Federal Reserve will stay the course and continue its monthly purchases of $85 billion of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities.