The Jobs Report Just Reignited the Bull v. Bear Debate for U.S. Stocks

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Happy Friday, there's no time to waste.

Jobs, Stocks, Bulls and Bears

Okay, let's talk about the February jobs number, which came in at 20,000 added in the U.S. in February, badly missing estimates of 180,000. Just how bad was it?

"The main take away from this report is that the economy is likely slowing and equities, having already bounced back sharply from the December lows, are going to struggle to push higher in the absence of information that corporate earnings and economic growth are going to reaccelerate," said Chris Zaccarelli, Chief Investment Officer for Independent Advisor Alliance.

On Friday, the S&P 500 fell 0.6%, or about 12 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 120 points, or 0.49%. Both indices had been up around 12% for the year until a few days ago, when China lowered its GDP forecast for the year. After some had said the market was overvalued, the S&P is now down to an 8.9% gain for the year.

Now, the bears are coming out a bit more. But some aren't throwing in the towel just yet, citing some bright spots in the economy.

"One data point doesn't make a trend and we continue to expect an improving labor market over the coming months," said Ryan Detrick, Senior Market Strategist for LPL Financial. "You have to be impressed with wage growth up to 3.4%, the best this cycle." LPL Financial has been one of the most steadfast bulls on U.S. stocks, calling for gains in highly cyclical sectors.

Caution on Costco

Costco (COST) - Get Report reported better-than-expected earnings and posted 25% year-over-year e-commerce growth, an important metric in the grocery business. The stock rose more than 4% to over $226 a share Friday. But some of that earnings beat was from gas sales, which will likely be volatile going forward, RealMoney's Kevin Curran writes (Costco was RealMoney's Stock of the Day). Plus, Costco has a forward price-to-earnings ratio of 28, which is high for a consumer staples stock.

Related. The good news is that Costco could pay a special dividend soon