U.S. stocks rebounded from early losses in afternoon trading on Friday, though the S&P 500 was still on track for losses this week after monthly jobs data showed employment gains hit a seven-month low.
U.S. oil prices settled higher, lifting the S&P energy index .SPNY 0.1 percent, while gains in gold prices helped other commodity-related shares. The S&P materials index .SPLRCM was up 0.8 percent.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 160,000 last month, far below the 202,000 that economists polled by Reuters had forecast on average. April's job gains were the smallest since September and below the first-quarter average job growth of 200,000. nL2N18214G]
"I thought it was positive overall. In terms of total labour demand, it's considerably better, but the headline number dropped and there was a knee-jerk reaction to that," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Massachusetts.
At 2:43 p.m., the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 80.4 points, or 0.46 percent, to 17,741.11, the S&P 500 .SPX had gained 6.37 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,057 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC had added 13.89 points, or 0.29 percent, to 4,730.98.
Mixed economic data and slowing global growth have weakened investors' appetite for risk, with the S&P 500 down slightly on the week.
Some investors say the weaker data may mean the next U.S. interest rate hike will come later rather than sooner.
"For those who had thought a June rate hike was in play, this was a nail in the coffin," said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors in New York.
Traders virtually priced out an interest rate increase at the Fed's June 14-15 meeting, according to CME Group's FedWatch.
The healthcare sector remained in the red, with Endo International (ENDP.O) slumping 40 percent to $15.95 after the drugmaker slashed its 2016 revenue and profit forecasts. The Nasdaq biotech index .NBI was down 0.9 percent.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,872 to 1,084, for a 1.73-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,380 issues rose and 1,350 fell for a 1.02-to-1 ratio favouring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and 70 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Nick Zieminski)
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Updated Date: May 07, 2016 01:00 AM