The main US indexes ended the Friday trading session with decreases after the US government published job data that did not meet the market expectations and raised the fears that the world economy might slow down.
The blue-chip index Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 22.99 points and finished the week at 25,450.24 points with Exxon Mobil and Pfizer performing the worst during the trading session. The broader S&P 500 wiped out 0.21% to a level of 2,743.07 points with the energy and consumer commodities sectors fell sharply. The technology index Nasdaq Composite declined by 0.18% to 7,408.14 points.
The equities fell sharply at the start of the session before paring losses. At its low of the day, the Dow was down 220.77 points while the S&P 500 had lost nearly 1%.
The indexes started the session with a sharp decline, but later during the trading recovered some of the losses. They also recorded their biggest weekly decline since the beginning of the year. The main indexes lost more than 2% this week. Nasdaq interrupted its 10-week winning session, while Dow Jones recorded its second weekly drop since the beginning of the year.
Marking what by some measures was its strongest start to a year since 1987, the Dow peaked at 26,241.42 on February 25. This zenith came as two big clouds hanging over the market in late 2018 cleared up: the Fed’s willingness to raise interest rates through 2019 and a looming U.S.-China trade war. But as the Fed took a more dovish view on interest rates and trade talks eased trans-Pacific tensions, stock prices rebounded.
The US economy added only 20,000 new jobs last month, which is the weakest month in terms of job creation since September 2017. The economists expected 180,000 new jobs. The data were released amid growing concerns about a possible slowdown in the global economy. The latest data for China showed that its exports declined by 20.7% on an annual basis, well below analysts’ expectations.
The weak data comes less than 24 hours after the European Central Bank cut its growth forecast for the Eurozone economy and announced a new round of incentives.
The weekly downturn comes amid growing concerns that most positive news on the US-China trade front may be exaggerated. At this stage, most investors expect the two countries to reach a trade agreement later this month.
On the bond markets, the yields on 10-year and 30-year US government securities declined slightly to 2.63% and 3.013%, respectively.
Corporate stocks performance
The stocks of Exxon Mobil fell around 2% early amid soft oil prices but shaved some of that loss. The US crude oil futures for April delivery dropped 1% to 56.11 USD per barrel.
Pfizer slumped below its 200-day moving average, falling nearly 2%.
DowDuPont Inc shares reversed direction to rise 0.3% after the board of the materials and chemicals giant approved the separation of its materials science division, setting up the creation of a new publicly traded firm called Dow. The new firm is set to trade independently on or about March 20.
Shares of Costco Wholesale climbed 5.1% after the bulk retailer reported fiscal second-quarter earnings Thursday that surpassed expectations.
The shares of Okta dropped 3.4% after the identity-management company issued disappointing earnings guidance.
The stocks of National Beverage Corp sank 15% after the maker of La Croix seltzer water issued fiscal third-quarter financial results that fell well short of expectations.