Wall Street slips from records after jobs data, but posts weekly gains

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Friday from record-high levels investors took profit and data showed slower-than-expected December U.S. jobs growth, but the major indexes posted gains for the week.

Domestic jobs increased by 145,000 last month, below the forecast for a 164,000 rise, the U.S. government data showed, as the pace of hiring remained more than enough to keep the longest economic expansion in history on track.

Friday’s report also showed the jobless rate held near a 50-year low of 3.5% and average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in the previous month.

“You’ve had an extremely strong start to the year, led by a number of stalwarts, and an underwhelming jobs report,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

That has given investors reason to take some profit, but next week the focus will turn to earnings, he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 133.13 points, or 0.46%, to 28,823.77, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 9.35 points, or 0.29%, to 3,265.35 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 24.57 points, or 0.27%, to 9,178.86.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.9% and the Dow added 0.7%. The Nasdaq climbed 1.8% in its fifth consecutive week of gains.

The gains followed easing tensions between the United States and Iran and firmer hopes of a U.S.- trade deal. The S&P 500 technology index <.SPLRCT>, which gained 2.2% for the week, was down 0.2% on Friday.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business the trade deal is on track to be signed on Jan. 15.

Boeing Co <BA.N> fell 1.9% after the company released hundreds of internal messages that contained harshly critical comments on 737 MAX development.

With the fourth-quarter earnings season set to begin in earnest next week, analysts expect profits for S&P 500 companies to have declined 0.6% in their second consecutive quarterly decline, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.31-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 61 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 106 new highs and 27 new lows.

Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.77 billion shares, compared with the 7 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch in New York; Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

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