Stocks fell modestly in midday trading Friday after the U.S. government reported a slowdown in hiring in April after months of robust job growth. Investors were also weighing tepid U.S. earnings reports and persistent weakness in the global economy.
TAKING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 12 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,647 as of noon Eastern. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost six points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,044, and the Nasdaq composite fell 25 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,692.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS: The Labor Department said employers created just 160,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate remained steady at 5 percent. The amount of job creation was significantly below the 200,000 jobs that economists were expecting.
While one month does not make a trend, there have been a few economic reports this week from across the globe that have shown signs of a slowdown last month. A closely watched Chinese manufacturing survey showed production contracted last month and European Union officials trimmed their forecasts for growth across the 19 countries that use the euro.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Once again, we received evidence that the U.S. economy is just bumbling along and will most likely remain so until after the U.S. presidential election,” said Tom di Galoma, a managing director of fixed income at Seaport Global. Di Galoma added that the April jobs report significantly reduces the possibility that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June or even later this year. “In my view, a rate-hike potential this year is nearing zero probability.”
CIRCLE TAKES THE SQUARE: Payment-processing company Square dropped $2.58, or 20 percent, to $10.47. The company, run by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, reported a larger-than-expected quarterly loss and saw its expenses climb sharply in the quarter.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 91 cents to $45.24 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 90 cents to $45.90 a barrel in London.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices were little changed. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note held steady at 1.75 percent. The euro rose to $1.1424 from $1.1398, and the dollar declined to 106.70 yen from 107.25 yen.