Stock Market Today: Another False Start to Long-Awaited Correction

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock markets returned to calm Friday as risk-off sentiment evaporated on a jobs number that was not too cold and not too hot. It was the "Goldilocks" number that market strategists such as Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group, were looking for to restore some certainty to the markets.

Nonfarm payrolls rose by 209,000 in July, which was slightly lower than the average 233,000 estimate expected by economists surveyed by Thomson Reuters. However, it still marks the sixth consecutive month of growth exceeding 200,000. It was solid number that was not strong enough to trigger short-term concerns of expedited Federal Reserve rate hiking, and certainly not weak enough to signal economic vulnerabilities. The June number was upwardly revised to 298,000 from 288,000. The markets were now baking in less Fed tightening, offsetting Wednesday's stronger-than-expected GDP rebound.

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"In the intermediate term, a stronger economy and more jobs is certainly better for stocks," said Stone. "As long as geopolitical concerns don't intrude, yields should move higher on a better payrolls number."

The S&P 500  was down just 0.29% to 1,925.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) was down a modest 0.42% to 16,493.37. The Nasdaq (QQQ) was off just 0.39% to 4,352.64. The VIX "fear gauge" retreated by 1.3% to 16.73. All the indices finished negative for the month on Thursday, with the Dow in the red for the year and the VIX spiking more than 27% to 16.98 as mixed earnings reports, concerns about the health of the European economy and financial sector, and the wait for Friday's nonfarm payrolls report rocked the global markets. On Argentina, strategists say many had already seen the second default in 13 years coming, and the event was largely already baked in before Thursday's plunge.

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