Stock futures fell on Friday after a big miss on the U.S. jobs number for March and following U.S. military action in Syria.
S&P 500 futures were down 0.3%, Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.33% and Nasdaq futures tumbled 0.28%.
The U.S. economy added just 98,000 jobs in March, the smallest increase in nearly a year and well below estimates of 180,000, according to economists surveyed by FactSet. February and January numbers were also revised lower. The February figure was cut to 219,000 jobs added from 235,000, while January was decreased to 216,000 from 238,000. The unemployment rate fell by 20 basis points to 4.5% from 4.7%. Average hourly wages increased 0.2% to $26.14. A late-season snow storm is expected to have hit the March number.
(What will move markets this quarter and how should investors position themselves ahead of time? Jim Cramer sat down with four of TheStreet's top columnists recently to get their views. Click here to listen to his latest Trading Strategies roundtable with them and read their advice for stocks, bonds, forex and gold).
"The pace of March hiring appears to have slowed," said Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com's senior economic analyst. "We have to acknowledge, however, that there's a bit of evidence that the month wasn't as disappointing as that headline number would indicate because the unemployment rate slipped to 4.5%."
Safe-haven assets rallied overnight, while futures initially plummeted, after the U.S. launched missile strikes against a Syrian air base. Around 60 cruise missiles were launched at the al-Shayrat airfield, identified by the U.S. as the base from which a chemical attack was launched earlier this week. The attack by American destroyers USS Ross and Porter was the first time the U.S. has directly intervened in Syria's long-running civil war.
The attack was a reversal for the Trump administration which had previously leaned toward a non-interventionist approach to the Syrian civil war. Wall Street grew nervous on Thursday afternoon after Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signaled possible military action in Syria. Tillerson said the U.S. was considering the "appropriate response" to the chemical attack in Syria on Tuesday that killed dozens. Trump said "something should happen" in Syria regarding President Bashar al-Assad's leadership. The attacks could also cause rifts with Russia, which supports the Assad regime.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, rose 0.3% early Friday to $51.87 a barrel, coming off earlier highs. The U.S. dollar had initially declined against a range of international currencies, though pared losses. Gold prices increased 1% to $1,265.20 an ounce.
Defense stocks saw gains before the bell. Boeing (BA - Get Report) and Lockheed Martin (LMT - Get Report) moved higher, while Raytheon (RTN - Get Report) , the maker of the Tomahawk missiles used in the attack, led premarket gains.
Trump and China's President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet for day two of a summit at Mar-a-Lago in Florida in what are expected to be a highly charged discussions. Trump said Thursday night that the two had had a "long discussion already" and said that they had "developed a friendship."
Trump had been highly critical of China on the campaign trail and since taking office, accusing the country of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. Trump had previously proposed a high tariff on U.S. imports of Chinese-made products. North Korea also will presumably be an important topic of conversation.
PriceSmart (PSMT - Get Report) fell 2% in premarket trading after quarterly earnings missed estimates. Second-quarter earnings of 90 cents a share fell short by 2 cents, while revenue of $772.3 million missed consensus of $794.4 million.
Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) moved nearly 1% lower after defying a U.S. government request for records that could identify users behind an account opposed to President Donald Trump. The social network is challenging that order in court. The company filed its lawsuit Thursday in a San Francisco federal court against the federal Department of Homeland Security and its Customs and Border Protection office, charging that their efforts to "unmask" the people behind the account violate the First Amendment.
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