Stocks fell on Friday after a disappointing U.S. payrolls report rattled confidence in the economic recovery – but major indexes finished well above earlier lows.
The S&P 500 closed at 1553.28, down 6.70 points or 0.4 per cent. That marked a considerable rebound after falling below 1540 near the start of trading. However, the benchmark index nonetheless turned in its worst weekly performance of the year – falling about 1 per cent – just days after hitting a record high.
The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 14,565.25, down 40.86 points or 0.3 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,331.85, down 31.20 points or 0.3 per cent.
The moves followed the U.S. Labor Department's monthly payrolls report, which showed that employers added just 88,000 jobs in March. The gains were well below expectations for 190,000 new jobs and also below February's revised job gains of 268,000.
While one disappointing month does not skewer hopes for the economic recovery, it does raise concerns about the impact of government spending cuts. The payroll gains in March were the slowest since last June. On the other hand, the report bolsters confidence that the Federal Reserve will continue to provide economic stimulus, in the form of low interest rates and bond-buying.
The news was even worse in Canada, where employers shed 54,500 jobs in March, marking a sharp reversal from last month when employers added 50,700 jobs.
Canadian banks were among the hardest hit. Royal Bank of Canada and Toronto Dominion Bank fell 1.3 per cent each.
Key commodities were mixed: Gold jumped to $1,578.70 (U.S.) an ounce, up $26.30. Crude oil fell to $92.98 a barrel, down 28 cents.
Among Canadian commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. fell less than 0.1 per cent, Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.8 per cent and Goldcorp Inc. rose 1.2 per cent.
Enbridge Inc. fell 2.4 per cent, a day after it announced a $500-million (Canadian) in new equity to help it with ambitious spending plans.
Technology stocks were casualties in the U.S. market: Cisco Systems Inc. fell 2 per cent, Hewlett-Packard Co. fell 1.5 per cent and Apple Inc. fell 1.1 per cent, approaching its 52-week low.