Stocks – S&P Falls, but Posts Best Week in 8 Months

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By Yasin Ebrahim – Wall Street capped a strong week with a loss on Friday as lingering concerns about the coronavirus offset U.S. employment data showing the economy created more jobs than expected last month.

The fell 0.54%, slipped 0.54% and the plunged 0.94%. The Dow and S&P had their best weeks in eight months.

The U.S. created jobs last month, well above economists’ consensus forecast of 160,000, pointing to underlying strength in the economy.

The surprise uptick in the unemployment rate and slowing wage growth were largely shrugged off, with analysts suggested the labor market strength will continue thanks to reduced U.S.-China trade uncertainty.

“Job markets still leave the current domestic economic backdrop in the U.S. looking solid, and that largely before any effects of reduced trade uncertainty tied to the U.S.-China trade truce of early 2020 has really had a chance to have a significant impact,” RBC said.

But the jobs report did little to help stocks amid lingering fears over the coronavirus, which has infected more than 31,000 individuals and killed at least 636.

Since the outbreak, Wall Street has fretted that the virus’ impact on global growth would spill over into the global market. Those fears, however, have been eased somewhat by expectations that central banks will act to stem any economic wobble.

But some on Wall Street appear less optimistic.

“The new coronavirus outbreak abroad has created some new risks to the near-term external growth backdrop, but there is little apparent reason for monetary policymakers to consider rate cuts at the moment, and we continue to expect the Fed to sit on the sidelines through 2020,” RBC said in a note.

With global growth expected to take a hit, Caterpillar (NYSE:), a bellwether of global economic activity, fell more than 2.8%, pushing materials deeper into the red.

Technology also weighed on the broader market, paced by a broader decline in chip stocks amid worries a prolonged lockdown could weigh on supply chain operations and industrial production throughout mainland China.

Energy also proved a big drag on the broader market as oil prices turned negative as traders weighed up the potential impact on global demand from the virus against a possible decision by OPEC and Russia to make additional production cuts.

Elsewhere, bedding company Casper Sleep (NYSE:), which made a strong trading debut on Thursday, fell 16%.

On the earnings front, Uber (NYSE:) and Pinterest (NYSE:) surged on better-than-expected earnings.

Uber Technologies (NYSE:) surged 10% as the company said it would turn out a profit earlier than expected. The positive outlook came just after the company reported quarterly results that topped Wall Street estimates.

And Pinterest (NYSE:) ended the day up 9.5%.

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