Stocks End Down on Weaker Jobs Data After Dow Crosses 29,000 for First Time

Stocks finish lower Friday after equities set all-time intraday highs and the Dow Jones tops 29,000 even after the U.S. adds fewer jobs than expected to payrolls in December.
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  1. Stocks finished near session lows Friday, but earlier in the session the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 29,000 even after the U.S. added fewer jobs than expected to payrolls in December.
  2. U.S. employers added a net new 145,000 jobs in the final month of the decade, below expectations.
  3. Apple reached fresh all-time highs after analysts at Credit Suisse boosted their price target for the iPhone maker, citing sharply improving sales in China.

Stocks finished near session lows Friday, but earlier in the session the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 29,000 for the first time even after the U.S. added fewer jobs than expected to payrolls in December.

The Dow finished down 133 points, or 0.46%, to 28,824, the S&P 500 slipped 0.29% and the Nasdaq was off 0.27%.

The Dow traded Friday at an all-time intraday high of 29,009.07. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also set all-time intraday highs during the session.

"Any time the market surpasses a nice round number (like 29,000), it has a positive effect on investor psychology," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance.

"All things being equal, it’s a signal that investors are more comfortable with the economy, the decrease in trade tensions and (now) the decrease in Middle East tensions," Zaccarelli added.

The U.S. job market capped its weakest year of growth in nearly a decade with a tepid payroll report for December that highlighted modest wage gains - despite the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years holding tight.

U.S. employers added a net new 145,000 jobs in the final month of the decade, according to the Commerce Department's payroll report released Friday, down from a revised 152,000 gain in November and below economists' forecasts of 160,000.

Average hourly earnings rose month to month by 0.1% for a yearly increase of 3.1%.

"While this morning’s number is lighter than expected, make no mistake - it’s very meaningful growth," said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade. "This reading shouldn’t change things for the (Federal Reserve) as growth continues, albeit at a slower pace."

The expectation that the U.S. and China will sign their phase one trade agreement next week also has helped drive equities higher, though President Donald Trump alluded Thursday evening to the possibility that the accord could be signed "shortly after" Jan. 15, a signing date he announced in a tweet on Dec. 31.

Apple  (AAPL) - Get Report extended gains into fresh all-time highs Friday after analysts at Credit Suisse boosted their price target for the iPhone maker, citing sharply improving sales in China.

Boeing (BA) - Get Report lead the Dow's retreat, on news that the planemaker's employees knew about problems with flight simulators for the 737 MAX and apparently tried to hide them from federal regulators, reports said, citing documents that were released Thursday.

Travelers (TRV) - Get Report and United Technologies (UTX) - Get Report were also pulling the Dow down.

In internal messages, Boeing employees talked about misleading regulators about problems with the simulators. In one exchange, an employee told a colleague they wouldn't let their family ride on a 737 MAX, the Associated Press reported.

Boeing's 737 MAX has been grounded since mid-March 2019 after two crashes of the aircraft killed 346 people.

Grubhub  (GRUB) - Get Report, the online food delivery company, denied reports that it was considering a sale.

“While our policy is not to comment on rumors, given the considerable media speculation ... we felt it was important to clarify that there is unequivocally no process in place to sell the company and there are currently no plans to do so,” a Grubhub told the New York Post.

Eli Lilly  (LLY) - Get Report reached a definitive agreement to buy skin treatment company Dermira  (DERM) - Get Report for $1.1 billion in cash, or $18.75 a share.

The price is 2.2% higher than Dermira's closing price Thursday of $18.34. The stock closed up 4.47% to $19.16. The shares have jumped more than 234% over the past three months.