US stocks mixed after disappointing August jobs data

The Nasdaq ended Friday at a new peak but the other main Wall Street indexes fell, reflecting the mixed sentiment stemming from a disappointing US jobs report which raised fears about the pace of economic recovery but weakened the argument for near-term tapering.

On the final day of trading before the Labour Day weekend, both the S&P 500 and Dow benchmark posted marginal declines, tempering the former’s positive weekly performance and extending the latter’s run of losses to four in the last five sessions.

For the Nasdaq though, registering a fifth win in the last six sessions and a weekly gain of 1.6 percent, investors’ support of heavyweight technology stocks continues to drive it higher.

Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook all rose between 0.3 percent and 0.4 percent.

“Tech has become bullet-proof,” said Mike Mullaney, director of global market research at Boston Partners.

“It’s the anti-Covid sector, where you want to be if you think Covid or a lack of growth is going to be an issue.”

The virus, and its impact on the pace of economic recovery, was evident in the Labor Department’s closely-watched report which showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 jobs in August, widely missing economists’ estimate of 750,000. Payrolls had surged 1.05 million in July.

Among the biggest decliners on the S&P 500 were cruise ship operators, whose businesses are highly susceptible to consumer sentiment around travel and COVID-19. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean Cruises all fell between 3.4 percent and 4.4 percent.

A majority of the 11 S&P sectors closed down, with the utilities index the worst performer at 0.8 percent lower.

The S&P 500 lost 0.03 percent to 4,535 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.21 percent to 35,369. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.21 percent, to 15,364. (Reuters)