Wall St falls sharply after jobs data; tech stocks hit | Reuters

Wall Street was sharply lower on Friday after data showing the U.S. unemployment rate had hit an eight-year low in January revived the prospect of a Fed rate hike this year, and tech stocks sold off heavily following weak forecasts.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 151,000 jobs last month, below the 190,000 expected by economists polled by Reuters as the boost to hiring from unseasonably mild weather faded.

Despite the expected slowdown in job growth, the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent, the lowest since February 2008, and average hourly earnings increased 0.5 percent, suggesting the labor market recovery remains firm.

"That ... serves as a caution to markets that it is too early to take a Federal Reserve March hike completely off the table," said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz in Newport Beach, California.

Adding to the negative sentiment, technology stocks sold off heavily following weak forecasts from LinkedIn and Tableau Software.

Big names such as Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft were among the biggest drags on the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.

"The market right now seems to be in a spot where the ice is a little bit thin and investors seem to be punishing stocks that are falling out of favor, whether it is caused by direct earnings or guidance," said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.

"LinkedIn and Tableau are names that are leaders. Those two names are important names, widely held, widely followed, and the disruption we saw in those prices affected stocks in that sector, without a doubt."

At 12:28 p.m. ET (1728 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 170.73 points, or 1.04 percent, at 16,245.85, the S&P 500 was down 27.57 points, or 1.44 percent, at 1,887.88 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 113.92 points, or 2.53 percent, at 4,395.64.

Nine of the 10 major sectors were lower, with the technology index's 2.92 percent fall leading the decliners, its biggest fall in nearly three weeks.

Stocks have had a rough start to 2016, hurt by tepid U.S. growth, falling oil prices and concern that the world faces a China-led slowdown.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the jobs report showed the strength of the U.S. economy but added that there was still "anxiety and concern" about its direction.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen has said the economy needs to create just under 100,000 jobs a month to keep up with growth in the working-age population.

Shortly after the jobs report, traders were pricing in one rate hike this year. Just before the report, no hikes were expected in 2016.

LinkedIn was down 41.6 percent at $112.06 after plunging as much as 43 percent, wiping out about $11 billion of market value, a day after the company's revenue forecast missed estimates.

Tableau Software was down 47.6 percent at $42.87 after hitting an all-time low of $40.04.

Tableau's fall dragged on other Software as a Service (SaaS) stocks. Workday, Qlik Technologies, Cornerstone OnDemand, Hortonworks and Teradata were all down by between 4 and 15 percent.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,097 to 853. On the Nasdaq, 1,993 issues fell and 658 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed five new 52-week highs and 21 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded two new highs and 137 new lows.

(Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar; Editing by Don Sebastian)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Feb 05, 2016 23:45 PM

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