NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks shrugged off a disappointing August US jobs report and finished mixed as investors eyed a potentially slower phasing down of monetary stimulus.
The US economy added just 235,000 positions last month, a far lower number than expected and below the level in recent months, revealing the drag on hiring from the Delta variant of Covid-19, particularly in the leisure and hospitality sector.
On the positive side, the report showed the unemployment rate fell to a pandemic low of 5.2 per cent.
Stocks avoided major swings in a session characterised by low trading volumes ahead of a holiday weekend.
Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell has said the central bank could begin scaling back its massive stimulus programme by year’s end, and some analysts have been expecting an announcement at a monetary policy meeting later this month.
“This jobs report takes a lot of pressure off of the Fed and the market knows that,” said Adam Sarhan of Sarhan Capital.
“And that’s why the market’s not selling off big time and it’s not rallying big because there’s no big catalyst. This is a perfect report for the Fed.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.2 per cent at 35,369.09.
The broad-based S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 per cent to 4,535.43, retreating from a record, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.2 per cent to 15,363.52.
Among individual companies, Kraft Heinz fell 0.7 per cent after the Securities and Exchange Commission announced it fined the food giant US$62 million (S$80 million) over an alleged accounting scheme that inflated the food giant’s financial results due to bogus cost savings.
US markets will be closed Monday in observance of the Labour Day holiday.