U.S. stocks finished lower, Friday, unable to shake off losses following the Labor Department's report that U.S. employers last month added fewer than half the number of new workers than economists were expecting.
The U.S. added only 88,000 jobs in March, the smallest rise in nine months, trailing expert forecasts for a figure around 190,000 new jobs. Underlying data was slightly more positive, showing a revised 268,000 gain in February, along with a drop in the national unemployment rate by 0.1% to 7.6%. Still, economists said the decline in the unemployment rate was due to people dropping out of the workforce.
Other data released included a report by the Commerce Department showing the U.S. trade gap narrowed to $43 billion during February, down from an unrevised $44.5 billion in January. The consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts surveyed by Reuters before the report was for the trade gap to widen slightly to $44.6 billion. The lower-than-expected deficit also could soon prompt analysts to raise their estimates of Q1 U.S. economic growth.
Also, Friday, Federal Reserve reported that U.S. consumers increased their debt in February by a seasonally adjusted $18.1 billion, the most since last August, and well above January's $12.7 billion. Monthly debt increased at a 7.8% pace compared to a 5.5% pace in the previous month.
In commodities, oil futures ended with a modest loss today, shedding 0.6% to close at $92.70 a barrel. For the week, oil lost 4.7%. June gold added $23.50 today to end at $1,575.90 an ounce, but the metal still had a rough week and finished with a 1.2% loss.
Here's Where The U.S. Markets Stood At Day's End
- Dow Jones Industrial Average down 40.86 (-0.28%) to 14,565.25
- S&P 500 down 6.70 (-0.43%) to 1,553.28
- Nasdaq Composite Index down 21.12 (-0.65%) to 3,203.86
- Nikkei 225 Index up 1.58%
- Hang Seng Index down 2.73%
- Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.11%
- FTSE 100 Index down 1.49%
- (+) XIDE, Hires Lazard Ltd to advise it on financing alternatives to maximize the value of the company for all stakeholders.
- (+) NIHD, Selling its stake in Nextel del Peru SA for about $400 million.
- (+) ACUR, Awarded U.S. patent for its Aversion technology, a polymer matrix designe3 to reduce potential abuse of opiod and other drugs.
- (-) RIGL, Top-line results from Phase III testing of its fostamatinib drug candidate fail to produce statistically significant difference after 24 weeks in an X-ray endpoint known as modified Total Sharp Score in patients with rheumatoid arthritis over patients receiving a placebo.
- (-) FFIV, Sees Q2 revenue around $350.2 mln, trailing the analyst consensus by $28.8 mln. EPS is seen in a range of $1.06 to $1.07, also lagging the Street view by at least $0.16 per share. Rivals Juniper Networks (JNPR) and Cisco Systems (CSCO) also are lower today.
- (-) ANCX, Closing its Mortgage Production unit in Denver, with the branch soon no longer taking loan applications and terminating all activities by April 30.
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