US stocks ended sharply lower as the highly anticipated monthly jobs report did little to give clarity on the timing of the interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve ahead of its two day policy meeting later this month.
Anxiety over the first US rate hike in almost a decade added worries among traders already on edge on concerns over the Chinese economy and a stock selloff earlier this month.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 272.71 points or 1.7% at 16,102.38 points to end more than 3.3% lower for the week. 29 of the blue chip index’s 30 components ended lower for the week
The S&P 500 Index ended 29.91 points or 1.5% lower at 1,921.22 points to end the week 3.4% lower.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 49.58 points or 1.1% lower at 4,683.92 points.
“It’s a glass-half-empty kind of day,” Patrick Blais, a fund manager at Manulife Asset Management Ltd. in Toronto. He helps manage about C$280 billion at the firm, told Bloomberg.
“Right now there’s a lot of nervousness so it’s natural for the market to react aggressively.”
According to the monthly jobs report by the Labor Department on Friday, the number of non-farm payrolls increased by 173,000 in August, lower than the 220,000 consensus growth estimate by analysts polled by Reuters.
The unemployment rate, however, fell to 5.1%, its lowest rate in more than seven years and wages grew.
Most market analysts viewed the market data as contradictory on the state of the economy and the urgency on the commencement of the country’s monetary tightening policy.
“In the run-up to its policy meeting, the Fed will pay even greater attention to global market developments – this with a view to minimizing the risk that its words and actions would inadvertently add to market volatility that could spill over into a fragile global economy and weaken it further,” Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz, told Reuters.
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