Wall St. pulls back from record highs after four-day rally

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By Medha Singh

(Reuters) – Wall Street pulled back from record levels on Friday after a four-day rally, as investors digested a report that showed strength in the U.S. labor market, while keeping a close eye on developments surrounding the coronavirus epidemic.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 225,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department’s data showed, much higher than 160,000 job additions expected by economists polled by Reuters.

The report follows a clutch of positive economic data this week, including ADP’s strong private payrolls report for last month.

“The jobs report was largely as expected because ADP (NASDAQ:) was a blowout number. Today for the most part was baked in,” said Sameer Samana, senior global market strategist at Wells Fargo (NYSE:) Investment Institute in St. Louis.

The benchmark S&P 500 index is on pace for its best week in eight months as China’s efforts over the last few days to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus outbreak lifted sentiment.

The materials index (), which has outperformed most S&P major sectors this week, was down 1.4%.

“The market is due for some sort of digestion of gains before it continues to challenge the 30,000 level on the Dow Jones Industrial Average,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research.

At 1:00 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average () slipped 0.67% to 29,182.58. The S&P 500 () dropped 0.26% to 3,337.11 and the Nasdaq Composite () was down 0.14% at 9,559.00.

Key risks to the U.S. economy have receded, the Federal Reserve said in its biannual policy report to the Congress, but warned that the fast-spreading coronavirus “could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy.”

The death toll in mainland China crossed 600 on Friday with travel restricted and businesses shuttered across the country to contain the spreading of the virus.

More than 300 S&P 500 companies have reported fourth-quarter results so far, of which about 70% have topped earnings estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (O:) slumped 10.7% after the videogame publisher missed estimates for quarterly adjusted revenue.

Uber Technologies Inc (N:) climbed 9.4% after the ride-hailing company moved forward by a year its target to achieve a measure of profitability to the fourth quarter of 2020.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.64-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.90-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 33 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 67 new highs and 67 new lows.

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