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).
Decliners finished ahead of advancers by a 2.3-to-1 ratio on the New York Stock Exchange and 2.6-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. Volume totaled 3.61 billion on the Big Board and 1.83 billion on the Nasdaq. The S&P 500 lost more than 13 points, or 0.94%, to settle at 1414. The index closed the week up 0.09% and is up 12.45% year-to-date. The Nasdaq dropped nearly 38 points, or 1.26%, to finish at 2982. The tech-heavy index finished the week down 0.13% but is still up 14.47% in 2012. The broad market finished entirely in the red with the basic materials, capital goods, energy, technology and utilities sectors leading the decline. September factory orders rose 4.8%, a turnaround from a decline of 5.2% in August which was the result from a large drop in aircraft orders. "The underlying characteristic of
recent economic reports is whether the trend of somewhat positive appearing reports can be sustained in the face of uncertainty. The trend in economic reports has not justified recent market appreciation because of low expectations," said Jeff Sica, manager of SICA Wealth Management. "The catalyst for most of the recent uptick has been Ben Bernanke and his coveted printing press." "A Romney victory will turn Bernanke into a lame duck chairman which will result in a Bernanke resignation prior to the completion of his term. Bernanke will never accept being a lame duck Fed Chairman. The result will be uncertainty as to whether the market could move up without the Bernanke catalyst," Sica added. The FTSE 100 in London finished off 0.11%, while the DAX in Germany added 0.38%. Asian markets posted gains Friday after the Bank of Japan left interest rates unchanged at zero to 0.1%. Japan's Nikkei average rose 1.17% overnight to close at 9051. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.33% to 22,111. Gold for December delivery plummeted $40.30 to settle at $1,675.20 an ounce at the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, while December crude oil contracts shed $2.23 to close at $84.86 a barrel. The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 2/32, boosting the yield to 1.719%. The dollar was up 0.66%, according to the U.S. dollar index.
In corporate news, shares of coffee giant Starbucks ( SBUX) surged more than 9% after it reported strong quarterly earnings, lifted its profit forecast for fiscal 2013, and boosted its dividend by more than 20%. Ralph Lauren ( RL) shares tacked on more than 1% after the apparel company reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings. However, the company cut its full-year sales outlook as it continues to shutter stores in China and decides to discontinue American Living amid ongoing uncertainties about the global economy. Insurance company AIG ( AIG) posted third-quarter earnings on Thursday of $1.86 billion, or $1.13 a share, for the September-ended quarter. AIG reported a year-ago loss of $4 billion. The company's operating income came in at $1, which was above analysts' expectations of 87 cents. The stock lost more than 7%. Beam ( BEAM) shares advanced by more than 2.5% after the spirits company announced third-quarter earnings and revenue that surpassed Wall Street estimates. LinkedIn's ( LNKD) stock closed flat despite the business social networker reporting third-quarter adjusted earnings that beat forecasts as revenue leaped 81%. Shares of Cooper Tire & Rubber ( CTB) gained more than 13% after the company reported a rise in income to $74.1 million, or $1.17 a share. Analysts were looking for 87 cents a share. Technology research firm Gartner ( IT) said net income rose to $31.4 million, or 33 cents a share, against a year-earlier result of $30.5 million, or 31 cents a share. Analysts were looking for 34 cents a share. The stock lost more than 8%. Huntsman ( HUN) saw shares rise more than 4% Friday despite falling short of analysts' expectations on the top and bottom line. The company's $116 million profit in the quarter reversed a year-earlier loss. Media company Washington Post ( WPO) posted a third-quarter profit of some $94 million versus a year-over-year loss of about $6 million. The preferred dividend for its fiscal third-quarter rose to $12.64 a share, up from a year-ago 82-cent loss. Shares popped more than 5%. -- Written by Joe Deaux and Andrea Tse in New York. >Contact by Email. Follow @JoeDeaux