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
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