Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell Friday for a fifth straight day Friday after the U.S. economy added far fewer jobs than expected in February.
  • Costco Wholesale (COST)  posted stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings but missed Wall Street's revenue estimates. Shares climbed 5.1%.
  • Marvell Technology Group (MRVL)  issued an earnings forecast for its fiscal first quarter below Wall Street estimates. Shares fell 2.1%.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended the worst week of the year on a down note Friday, March 8, as the three main U.S. stock indexes wrapped up five straight days of loses tumbling on news of a disappointing U.S. jobs report for February.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 22.29 points, or 0.9%, to 25,450, the S&P 500 was down 0.21%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.18%. 

 
The U.S. economy added far fewer jobs than expected in February, as the stimulus effect  from President Donald Trump's late-2017 tax cuts fades, according to a report from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nonfarm payrolls climbed by 20,000, down from January's pace of 304,000, the report said. Economists had expected the U.S. to add 180,500 jobs last month.

"Obviously the headline number is terrible," said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network. "There's no sugar-coating it. But then you look at it and you say, 'Wow, the unemployment rate went down, the underemployment rate went down.' So you look at it and you, OK, the job market is still actually pretty healthy when you look at the supply-demand balance. And then you say, 'OK, have we had times in the past when we've seen a terrible report?' And we have. It could be a one-off. If you look at consumer confidence or business confidence, over the past couple of months you saw a significant step back and then you saw a rebound."

Tendayi Kapfidze, chief economist at Lending Tree, said that while February was one of the weakest months of job growth since the financial crisis, it was still the 101st straight month of gains.

"The labor market remains robust and the economy remains quite strong despite the weak February number," Kapfidze said in an email. "There may have been some effects of the government shutdown which lowered both business and consumer confidence. This report is supportive of Fed rate hikes despite the Fed itself taking a dovish tilt. The Fed's dual mandate relates to the labor market and inflation. This report confirms the continued strength in the labor market. If wage gains result in higher overall inflation then Fed could find itself needing to raise rates later in the year."

Also denting sentiment Friday was word that the U.S. and China have yet to set a date for a summit to resolve their trade dispute, according to Terry Branstad, the U.S. ambassador to China. Additionally, China's exports in February plunged more than 20%, the most in three years, as the twin impacts of the annual lunar holiday and the ongoing trade war with the United States hammered external demand. 

Jim Cramer suggested investors look to the "tried and true names" in a tough market.

"This is when you buy Procter (PG) , this is when you buy Clorox (CLX) ," he said. "This is when you revert to the tried and true names that do well in a slowdown."

A bit of good news: Housing starts in the U.S. increased 18.6% in January, according to the Commerce Department, rising to an annual pace of 1.23 million. 

Costco Wholesale (COST)  reported second quarter earnings of  $2.01 a share, up nearly 72% from the same period and well ahead of the Wall Street consensus forecast of $1.69 a share. Revenue rose 7.3% to $34.63 billion but missed analysts' estimates of $35.65 billion. Shares were climbing 5.1%.

Marvell Technology Group (MRVL) issued an earnings forecast for its fiscal first quarter below Wall Street estimates.

Marvell said it expects first-quarter adjusted earnings of 12 cents to 16 cents a share on sales of about $650 million, plus or minus 3%. Analysts had been calling for adjusted profit of 23 cents a share on sales of $718 million. Shares were down 2.1%.

DowDuPont ( DWDP) said Friday its board approved the separation of DowDuPont's materials science division, which will become the new Dow, an independent, publicly traded company, on April 1. The stock finished up slightly to $54.68.
 
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