Wall St edges down after recent records, weak jobs data

 Wall St edges down after recent records, weak jobs data

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down slightly in Friday afternoon trading as investors took profits after hitting record highs this week and data showed slower-than-expected December U.S. jobs growth.

Domestic jobs increased by 145,000 last month, below the forecast for a 164,000 rise, the U.S. government data showed, as the pace of hiring remained more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track.

Friday's report also showed the jobless rate held near a 50-year low of 3.5% and average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in the previous month.

"You've had an extremely strong start to the year, led by a number of technology stalwarts, and an underwhelming jobs report," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

That's given investors reason to take some profits, but it's not a significant move down, he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 88.25 points, or 0.3%, to 28,868.65, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 3.55 points, or 0.11%, to 3,271.15 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 7.90 points, or 0.09%, to 9,195.53.

The indexes are on track for gains for the week, which saw markets rally as U.S.-Iran tensions eased and hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal firmed. The S&P 500 technology index <.SPLRCT>, on pace for a 2.3% weekly gain, was down slightly on Friday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business the trade deal is on track to be signed on Jan. 15.

Boeing Co fell 1.5% after the company released hundreds of internal messages that contained harshly critical comments on 737 MAX development.

With the fourth-quarter earnings season set to begin in earnest next week, analysts expect profits for S&P 500 companies to have declined 0.6% in their second consecutive quarterly decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.06-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 60 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 100 new highs and 23 new lows.

(Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Chizu Nomiyama)

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Updated Date: Jan 11, 2020 03:05:19 IST