By Lewis Krauskopf, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Johann M Cherian
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes ended lower on Friday in a seesaw session, as investors digested a U.S. jobs report that showed weaker-than-expected growth and awaited more economic data and corporate earnings in the weeks ahead.
The U.S. added the fewest jobs in 2-1/2 years in June, although persistently strong wage growth pointed to still-tight labor market conditions, U.S. government data showed.
The benchmark S&P 500 was solidly higher for most of the afternoon, but stocks sold off toward the end of the session.
“Investors are more cautious going into a very important week with the beginning of earnings season and a very important inflation reading mid-week,” said Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial.
The report showing nonfarm payrolls increased by 209,000 jobs last month followed a sell-off on Thursday sparked by a surge in June private payrolls that stoked fears the Federal Reserve would move aggressively to hike interest rates to tame inflation.
“The jobs report today I think is consistent with what the Fed would like to see,” said Josh Jamner, investment strategy analyst at ClearBridge Investments.
“That’s not to say, mission accomplished or the job is done. But continued cooling in the jobs market ultimately will make their lives easier.”
On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 187.38 points, or 0.55%, to 33,734.88, the S&P 500 lost 12.64 points, or 0.29%, to 4,398.95 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 18.33 points, or 0.13%, to 13,660.72.
Among S&P 500 sectors, defensive groups fell the most, with consumer staples down 1.3%. Energy gained 2.1% while materials rose 0.9%.
The small-cap Russell 2000 ended up 1.2% on the day.
Major indexes ended with weekly losses after a strong first-half of the year. For the week, the S&P 500 fell about 1.2%, the Dow slid roughly 2% and the Nasdaq dropped 0.9%.
The Fed is still widely expected to raise rates at its meeting later this month after pausing in June, as job growth remains above the pace in the decade before the pandemic.
Chicago Fed President Austan Goolsbee said he does not disagree with his fellow U.S. central bankers that rates will need to rise a couple more times this year to beat back too-high inflation.
In company news, Levi Strauss & Co shares tumbled 7.7% after the denim clothing maker cut its annual profit forecast.
Shares of Rivian Automotive surged 14.2% after the electric vehicle maker reported better-than-expected quarterly deliveries.
U.S.-listed shares of Alibaba gained 8% after Chinese authorities said they will impose a $984 million fine on Ant Group, ending the affiliate fintech company’s years-long regulatory overhaul.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 2.49-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.00-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and five new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 45 new highs and 63 new lows.
About 10.3 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 11.1 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf and Sinead Carew in New York, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Johann M Cherian in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli and Richard Chang)