Stocks turned higher today, reversing steep losses that followed a worrisome reading on the nation's job market as investors sought bargains...
NEW YORK — Stocks turned higher today, reversing steep losses that followed a worrisome reading on the nation’s job market as investors sought bargains in sectors like financials and consumer staples.
At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 32.73 at 11,220.96; the blue chips had been down 150 points at their lows of the session.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 70 cents to close at $25.65, and was off 6 percent for the week. Boeing, also a Dow stock, slipped 14 cents to $62.52 and was off 4.6 percent for the week.
Broader stock indicators were moving in and out of positive territory. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added 5.48 to 1,242.31, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 3.16 to 2,255.88.
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For the week, the Dow fell 2.8 percent, the S&P 500 was off 3.2 percent, and the Nasdaq slid 4.7 percent.
The Labor Department said payrolls shrank by 84,000 last month, more than the 75,000 economists predicted, and higher than the 51,000 jobs lost in July. The unemployment rate rose to a five-year high of 6.1 percent from 5.7 percent.
The report confirmed Wall Street’s fears that the economy continues to weaken. The nation has lost nearly 550,000 jobs so far this year, eroding investors’ hopes for a late-year recovery.
“This was an ugly number that pretty much confirms that our economy continues to trend downward,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank. “I had thought things were stabilizing, and this just knocks the legs out of any hope of seeing much economic improvement right now.”
But investors snapped up stocks hit in a sell-off Thursday, particularly banks and insurers.
Stocks turned in a dismal performance on Thursday, with all three major indexes moving back into bear market territory, defined as a 20 percent drop from a recent peak. The Dow plunged more than 340 points in a selloff underpinned by disappointing economic news and lackluster sales reports from retailers.
Bond prices fell today. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.66 percent from 3.62 percent late Thursday.
“Since mid-July I think it’s become apparent that the global economies have really weakened pretty sharply,” said Thomas Lee, U.S. equities strategist at J.P. Morgan in New York. He said that while investors had been applauding the drop in oil prices since then, there was an assumption that lower commodities prices would hasten a recovery in the U.S. economy. Now, he said, investors are worried that the economy might be weakening even as oil falls.
“It’s disinflation coupled with an accelerating downside in the economy. That’s not what people were prepared for. I think people were expecting disinflation as an economic recovery was under way,” Lee said. “The surge in unemployment today really underscores that fear.”
As it had earlier in the week, Wall Street found little comfort from falling oil. Crude at one point dropped below $106 a barrel today as the dollar continued to gain on the euro and investors waited to see whether OPEC moves to restrict output next week following a two-month plunge in prices. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is scheduled to meet early next week in Vienna and has indicated it may take action to defend the $100-a-barrel level.
Light, sweet crude settled down $1.66 at $106.23 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Advancing issues narrowly outnumbered decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to about a billion shares.
And the gloom about the U.S. economy was not contained to just major American indexes. Investors overseas sent shares sharply lower on concerns about America’s effect on global growth.
Japan’s Nikkei stock fell 2.8 percent. In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 ended down 2.3 percent, Germany’s DAX index dropped 2.4 percent, and France’s CAC-40 shed 2.5 percent.