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Stocks End Lower, Tech Tanks, on Mixed Jobs Report, Omicron Fears

Wall Street reacts to a disappointing jobs report and concerns about the Omicron variant by selling off.
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Stocks finished sharply lower Friday, pulled down by a weaker-than-expected jobs report and concerns about the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 59 points, or 0.17%, to 34,580 after earlier falling as much as 300 points. The S&P 500 lost 0.84% with losers outpacing winners 321 to 184. The tech-heavy Nasdaq dropped 1.92%.

DocuSign  (DOCU) - Get DocuSign, Inc. Report was the Nasdaq's biggest loser, cratering 43%, after the e-signature stalwart offered earnings guidance below expectations and said its pandemic-aided boom has faded.  (TCOM) - Get Group Ltd. Report, Adobe  (ADBE) - Get Adobe Inc. Report and  (JD) - Get Inc. Report also pulled the Nasdaq down.

Boeing led the Dow's retreat, falling nearly 2%, one day after authorities in China cleared the path for a return to service of the aerospace company's troubled 737 MAX.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that total nonfarm payroll employment rose 210,000 in November while the unemployment rate fell to 4.2% from 4.6%.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had expected 573,000 jobs. The unemployment fell to 4.2%, better than the 4.5% estimate.

"Yes, the headline number was disappointing but there were a number of positives with this jobs report," said Lawrence Gillum, fixed income strategist for LPL Financial.

"Labor force participation increased, and the unemployment rate fell- both of which point to a continued strong jobs market."

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Gillum also noted that, importantly, the unemployment rate for minorities and women fell meaningfully over the month, "which means this job recovery is broad and inclusive." 

"The positive trend in job growth shows the economy continues to recover and may give the Fed more reasons to speed up its tapering plans," he said.

The number of omicron variant cases continued to rise. The World Health Organization said the variant has been detected in 38 countries, up from 23 two days ago.

Soumya Swaminathan, WHO's chief scientist, urged people not to panic about the emergence of the omicron coronavirus variant. She said it was too early to say whether Covid-19 vaccines would have to be modified to fight it, Reuters reported.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, urged Americans on Friday to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, saying the booster dose increases "the number of neutralizing antibodies against all the variants."

Didi Global  (DIDI) - Get DiDi Global Inc. Report tumbled 22.2% after the Chinese ride-hailing company, said it would delist from the New York Stock Exchange and list in Hong Kong. The company went public last summer.

Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc Report lost ground, falling 6.4%, after Chief Executive Elon Musk sold another 934,091 shares of the electric vehicle maker valued at $1.01 billion to meet tax obligations related to the exercise of options to buy 2.1 million shares. 

Since Nov. 8 Musk has sold more than $10 billion of Tesla stock, a fraction of his total holdings.

Alphabet  (GOOGL) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report dipped nearly 1% after the search engine giant said its Google unit would indefinitely delay bringing its global workforce back to its offices, due to concern about the omicron variant. It had previously set Jan. 10 for the return.