NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks were off their lows but still likely to finish the week in the red as investors worried about falling oil prices, a slowing global economy and weak U.S. wage growth.
Oil fell further as an OPEC member balked again at cutting crude production.
The United Arab Emirates said it had no plans to cut output, according to ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba.
"This extra glut in the market is not coming from the OPEC members, so therefore why should the OPEC members have to cut their production," Otaiba told Bloomberg. Earlier this week, representatives from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait echoed this sentiment, confirming output would remain unchanged.
Faltering economic growth in Europe and China renewed fears of slowing demand for oil. Germany's industrial production for November unexpectedly fell for the first time in three months. The eurozone's largest economy reported that production fell 0.1% for the month, down from an upwardly revised 0.6% gain in October. Economists had expected an increase of 0.3%.
Meanwhile, troubles continued for China's economy as inflation came close to a five-year low, slumping for the 34th straight month. December's producer price index dropped 3.3% year on year, falling despite a slight uptick in consumer inflation over the month. China's Shanghai Composite closed 0.24% lower.
"Concern over weaker demand prospects in China and Europe remain dominant, although we see a certain circular logic here, with falling oil prices now often cited as pointing to weak macroeconomic prospects, which feeds back as lower demand expectations for crude oil as worry reinforces worry," Citi's energy futures analyst Timothy Evans wrote in a report. "We don't doubt that demand looks soft; we would just take care not to count the same factor more than once."
Though oil prices were lower, they remained above their 5 1/2-year low hit earlier in the week. The commodity has been in freefall since last summer as global oil producers gave no signs they would limit production in the face of faltering demand. West Texas Intermediate crude dropped 1.5% to $48.07 a barrel.
The S&P 500 fell 0.72%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.89%, and the Nasdaq declined 0.56%. The drops follow a two-day rally in which equities rose around 3% after days of punishing losses because of cratering oil prices.
"We're coming off of two days of really strong gains so I think there might have been a lot of buying in anticipation of a good (jobs) report," said Gary Thayer, Wells Fargo head of global macro strategy, in a call. "Maybe some people are taking profits or holding back a bit, looking forward to other economic news next week."
Equities already were under pressure earlier Friday as U.S. wage growth slipped unexpectedly in December. Average hourly earnings fell 0.2% in December after increasing 0.2% the month earlier, the Labor Department said Friday. For the year, earnings posted their smallest gain since October 2012, up just 1.7%.
"What it basically shows is that the average worker is keeping his head above water but he's not really doing a lot better," added Thayer.
The latest jobs report closes out a year with the best employment gains in 15 years. The U.S. added 252,000 jobs in December, coming in better than a forecast increase of 240,000. This marks the 11th consecutive month of job gains above 200,000. November's blockbuster jobs number was upwardly revised to an even better 353,000.
"A job report either very low or very high might have changed expectations for what the Fed would do," said Kate Warne, investment strategist for Edward Jones. "This simply says the Fed's likely to move some time in the second half of the year."
Facebook (FB) shares were slightly lower after the social network announced its acquisition of video-compression company QuickFire Networks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Macy's (M) shares were down 3% after announcing restructuring plans and the closure of 14 of stores. The retailer will book charges of around $110 million in costs related to restructuring.
Starbucks (SBUX) shares fell 3% as its chief operating officer and long-time executive, Troy Alstead, announced he was taking extended unpaid leave from the company as of March 1. The absence was not explained further.
Wet Seal (WTSL) plummeted 32% on a Wall Street Journal report the company could file for bankruptcy as soon as next week. Earlier this week, the teen retailer announced plans to close 338 stores and cut 3,700 jobs.
Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY) was sliding 7.2% after failing to raise its fourth-quarter guidance above consensus. The retailer expects net profit between $1.78 a share and $1.83 a share, in line with an expected $1.80 a share.
Yelp (YELP) shares were 4.4% higher after Bank of America upgraded the stock to "buy," crediting its positive view to the Internet company's "position as a local category leader with a strong position on mobile."
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.