US stocks open lower after weak jobs data

New York: Wall Street stocks opened solidly lower on Friday following a dismal employment report showing the US added just 20,000 jobs last month.

About 10 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 25,303.73, a drop of 0.7 percent from Thursday’s close.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 0.8 percent to 2,727.45, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 1.0 percent to 7,348.59.

The early losses put the market on track for its fifth straight day of declines.

The headline jobs number fell far below the 173,000 seen by analysts and reflected job cuts in the construction, retail and transportation sectors.

Still, analysts are unlikely to give too much weight to a single month’s data. FTN Financial’s Chris Low noted that even with the February figures, the three-month average was 186,000 jobs added per month.

The labor data follow other recent signs of global economic slowing, including Thursday’s sharply lower growth outlook by the European Central Bank that prompted new stimulus measures.

Analysts also cited comments from US ambassador to China Terry Barnstad that a US-China trade deal still was not imminent as a factor in Friday’s tepid trading.

Some market watchers have also been predicting a pullback after the market surged about 20 percent between late December and late February.