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* U.S. jobs growth slowed in September
* Investors turn to upcoming quarterly reports
* Indexes: Dow -0.03%, S&P 500 -0.13%, Nasdaq -0.38% (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments to afternoon trading)
Oct 8 (Reuters) – U.S. stocks dipped on Friday after data showed jobs growth in September was weaker than expected, yet investors still expected the Federal Reserve to begin tapering asset purchases this year.
Comcast Corp tumbled 4.3% after Wells Fargo cut its price target on the media company. This exerted pressure on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq, which went into negative territory. Charter Communications Inc fell 4.5% after Well Fargo downgraded that cable operator to “underweight” from “overweight”.
Most of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with real estate and materials the deepest decliners, each down about 0.6%.
The S&P 500 energy sector index jumped 2.3%, with oil up more than 4% on the week as a global energy crunch has boosted prices to their highest since 2014.
The Labor Department’s nonfarm payrolls report showed the U.S. economy in September created the fewest jobs in nine months as hiring dropped at schools and some businesses were short of workers. The unemployment rate fell to 4.8% from 5.2% in August and average hourly earnings rose 0.6%, which was more than expected.
“I think that the Federal Reserve made it very clear that they don’t need a blockbuster jobs report to taper in November,” said Kathy Lien, Managing Director at BK Asset Management in New York. “I think the Fed remains on track.”
Futures on the federal funds rate priced in a quarter-point tightening by the Federal Reserve by November or December next year.
In afternoon trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.03% at 34,743 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.13% to 4,393.92.
The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.38% to 14,598.71.
Third-quarter reporting season kicks off next week, with JPMorgan Chase and other big banks among the first to post results. Investors are focused on global supply chain problems and labor shortages.
Analysts on average expect S&P 500 earnings per share for the quarter to be up almost 30%, according to Refinitiv.
“I think it’s going to be a dicey earnings season,” warned Liz Young, head of investment strategy at SoFi in New York. “If supply-chain issues are driving up costs, a company with strong pricing power can pass through those rising costs. But you can’t pass through a labor shortage if you can’t find workers to hire.”
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.49-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 24 new 52-week highs and 3 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 75 new highs and 95 new lows. (Additional reporting by Devik Jain, Susan Mathew, Bansari Mayur Kamdar and Anisha Sircar, Editing by Maju Samuel and David Gregorio)