Stocks bounced into the green by mid-afternoon Friday as investors weighed the pros and cons of a disappointing snapshot of the labor market.
The S&P 500 was up 0.32%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.44%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.31%. The Nasdaq had briefly entered contraction territory earlier in the session.
The U.S. economy added 160,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in April, below an expected 200,000 increase. The unemployment rate held at 5%, while average hourly wages rose 0.3%. Hourly wages have risen 2.5% in the past 12 months.
Job gains in March were cut to 208,000 from 215,000, while February's increase was reduced to 233,000 from 245,000. The April read and revisions to the previous two months exacerbated worries over the health of the U.S. economy.
On the upside, the weaker read increased the chance the Federal Reserve will delay a rate hike until later in the year. The Fed recently left its federal funds rate unchanged following its April meeting and will meet again on June 14-15.
"The headline number was definitely disappointing, and all but erases any chance of a rate hike in June," said Chris Gaffney, president of World Markets at EverBank. "Without any real wage pressure and the uncertainty of a presidential election in the fall I think the FOMC will be forced to sit on their hands until the end of the year. This confirms we will have lower rates for longer -- more of the same."
The chances of a June rate hike are currently at 11%, according to the CME Group. Fed funds futures indicate a 28% chance of a July hike and 41% in September.
Crude oil prices finished higher after another weekly decline in active oil rigs. The number of oil rigs in the U.S. fell by 4 to 328, according to Baker Hughes. Crude-drilling rigs have fallen for the past seven weeks in a row. West Texas Intermediate finished the day 0.8% higher at $44.66 a barrel.
Cigna (CI) - Get Cigna Corporation Report was active after growth in quarterly premiums and fees revenue helped to boost earnings. The health insurer said its March quarter adjusted earnings increased to $2.32 a share from $1.96 a share. The company also increased full-year earnings estimates to $8.95 to $9.35 a share, up from a previous forecast of $8.85 to $9.25.
DreamWorks (DWA) swung to surprise profit in its recent quarter, generating per-share earnings of 16 cents compared to a net loss of 64 cents in the year-ago quarter. Revenue jumped 14% to $190.4 million. NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report , has agreed to purchase DreamWorks.
Square (SQ) - Get Square, Inc. Class A Report slumped 20% after reporting a quarterly net loss of 29 cents a share, far steeper than an expected loss of 6 cents. Revenue inched just 1% higher to $374 million, though came in above consensus of $345 million.
Yelp (YELP) - Get Yelp Inc Report surged 22% after topping quarterly estimates on its top- and bottom-line. The online reviews site earned an adjusted 8 cents a share in its first quarter, more than double expectations, while revenue of $158.6 million beat consensus of $155.6 million.
GoPro (GPRO) - Get GoPro, Inc. Class A Report fell 4% despite reporting a narrower-than-expected quarterly net loss and issuing strong full-year sales guidance. The action camera maker expects fiscal 2016 revenue between $1.35 billion and $1.5 billion. Analysts had expected sales at the low-end of that range.