Labor Department data dents U.S. stocks, Dow Jones drops 5 points

NEW YORK, New York – Although job numbers grew less than expected in December, the U.S. unemployment rate is currently at the lowest rate since the pandemic began, according to a Labor Department report released on Friday.

“The investor takeaway is that the labor market continues to be tight despite the headline miss,” Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston told Reuters Friday.

“Investors are concerned the Fed will be more aggressive than expected.”

Stocks closed lower but the losses were limited.

“Today, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the American economy added 199,000 jobs in the month of December, and the unemployment rate was 3.9 percent, down from 4.2 percent in November. This marks the first time unemployment has been under four percent since the pandemic began, and the largest ever one-year drop in the unemployment rate on record,” U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh said Friday.

The Standard and Poor’s 500 dipped 19.02 points, or 0.41 percent, to 4,677.03.

The Nasdaq Composite shed 144.96 points, or 0.96 percent, to 14,935.90.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 4.81 points, or 0.01 percent, to 36,231.66.

The U.S. dollar underwent a rare correction Friday, losing ground against all the majors. The euro appreciated to 1.1361. The British pound rose to 1.3595. The Japanese yen strengthened to 115.55. The Swiss franc firmed to 0.9182.

The Canadian dollar was stronger at 1.2641. The Australian cruised higher to 0.7181. The New Zealand dollar rose to 0.6775.

On overseas equity markets, the FTSE 100 in London gained 0.47 percent. The Paris-based CAC 40 dropped 0.42 percent. The Dax in Germany was down 0.65 percent.

On Asian markets, the Australian All Ordinaries finished 95.10 points or 1.24 percent in front, at 7,774.40.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo was flat, losing 9.31 points or 0.03 percent to 28,478.56.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 420.52 points or 1.82 percent to 23,493.38.

China’s Shanghai Composite was ahead most of the day but dipped in the final half hour to finish the day down 6.54 points or 0.18 percent at 3,579.54.