NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The major U.S. equity averages finished the truncated trading week with steep losses on Friday as the October jobs report fell flat ahead of next week's presidential election.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 139 points, or 1.05%, to close at 13,093. The blue-chip index finished the week down 0.08% but is still up 7.17% so far in 2012.
The big headline early on Friday was the employment report, which was the last significant piece of economic data ahead of Americans heading to the polls on Nov. 6 to decide whether President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will spend the next four years in the White House.
Nonfarm payrolls rose 171,000 in October, exceeding the consensus estimate for job creation of 125,000, according to Briefing.com. After September's dip, the unemployment rate ticked up to 7.9% from 7.8%, in line with expectations."In the current environment with the expectations what they are, you can probably characterize this as a pretty solid jobs report," said Brad Sorensen, market and sector research director at Charles Schwab. "You can see from the market reaction; not a great reaction to it one way or the other, so I think it kind of keeps in with the story that we've been seeing roughly 2% growth." "Although the jobless rate rose 0.1 (of a percentage) point, this reflected an increase in labor force participation, as the survey of households also reported another large gain in employment. However, the implied gains in income and industrial output are somewhat smaller as wages were flat and the factory workweek edged down," said Jan Hatzius, chief economist at Goldman Sachs. Breadth within the Dow was negative with losers ahead winners, 25 to 4, with Pfizer (PFE) finishing flat. The biggest percentage decliners were Caterpillar (CAT), Chevron (CVX), and du Pont (DD). Shares of Chevron were down more than 2.5% after the oil and gas giant reported a third-quarter profit of $5.3 billion, down from $7.8 billion in the same period a year earlier. On a per share basis, earnings came in at $2.69, below the average analyst view of $2.83. The biggest blue-chip gainers were Bank of America (BAC), Merck (MRK), and Walt Disney (DIS).