by Investing.com Staff, Investing.com
At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.38%, the S&P 500 index fell 0.43%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.65%.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier the economy added 88,000 nonfarm payrolls in March, way below expectations for a gain of 200,000 and below the 268,000 jobs added in February.
The private sector added 95,000 jobs last month, after an increase of 254,000 in February, missing expectations for a 209,000 rise.
The report also showed that the U.S. unemployment rate ticked down to 7.6% in March, from 7.7% the previous month, as more Americans left the labor force.
Analysts were expecting the headline unemployment rate to remain unchanged last month.
The news sent stocks falling, though they later rebounded as disappointing data on jobless claims and private-sector hiring released earlier this week were already priced into the market.
Furthermore, the numbers rekindled talk the Federal Reserve will keep stimulus programs in place, which push up stock prices as a side effect.
Elsewhere in the U.S., the Commerce Department reported that the U.S. trade deficit narrowed unexpectedly in February, coming in at USD43 billion compared to a USD44.5 billion deficit the previous month.
Analysts were expecting the country’s trade deficit to widen to USD44.6 billion in February.
Concerns that tensions with North Korea may rise to the point fear affects the global economy kept prices lower as well.
Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Boeing, up 1.46%, JPMorgan Chase, up 0.91%, and McDonald’s, up 0.78%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s worst performers included American Express, down 2.20%, Cisco Systems, down 2.09%, and Hewlett-Packard, down 1.39%.
European indices, meanwhile, finished lower.
After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 fell 1.38%, France’s CAC 40 fell 1.68%, while Germany’s DAX 30 finished down 2.03%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 finished fell 1.49%.
The U.S. dollar weakened against most major currencies on Friday after the U.S. government revealed that the economy created a scant number of jobs in March.
In U.S. trading on Friday, EUR/USD was up 0.55% at 1.3007.
The poor employment news sent the dollar falling on expectations for the Federal Reserve to keep monetary stimulus programs in place, including its USD85 billion monthly bond-buying program that weakens the greenback as a side effect.
Elsewhere in the U.S., the Commerce Department trade deficit data discussed previously also contributed to USD weakness.
Meanwhile in Europe, Eurostat, the statistical arm of the European Union, reported earlier that retail sales in the currency zone fell 0.3% in February, outpacing expectations for a 0.2% decline after a 0.9% rise the previous month, though the U.S. jobs report served as the greenback’s chief steering current on Friday.
Eurostat also reported that the euro area’s gross domestic product contracted by 0.6% in the fourth quarter, a revision that came in line with expectations.
The greenback, meanwhile, was down against the pound, with GBP/USD trading up 0.70% at 1.5338.
Data showed that house prices in the U.K. rose 0.2% in March, in line with expectations, after a 0.5% increase the previous month. which gave Cable further support.
The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, was down 0.24% at 82.64.
The pair was likely to find support at 1.5034, Thursday’s low, and resistance at 1.53649, the earlier high.
Meanwhile across the Atlantic, data showed that house prices in the U.K. rose 0.2% in March, in line with expectations, after a 0.5% increase the previous month. which gave Cable further support.
Gold prices rose on Friday after U.S. jobs numbers fell far short of expectations, putting to rest recent sentiments that the Federal Reserve may consider tightening policy in the coming months.
Currently loose monetary policies and low interest rates tend to weaken the dollar, which normally trades inversely with gold.
On the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery were up 1.38% at USD1,573.85 a troy ounce in U.S. trading on Friday, up from a session low of USD1,549.15 and down from a high of USD1,574.65 a troy ounce.
Gold futures were likely to test support USD1,549.15 a troy ounce, the earlier low, and resistance at USD1,604.25, Tuesday’s high.
Elsewhere on the Comex, silver for May delivery was up 1.49% at USD27.165 a troy ounce, while copper for May delivery was down 0.12% and trading at USD3.348 a pound.
Oil prices dropped on Friday after the U.S. government revealed that the economy added far fewer jobs in March than expected.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures for delivery in May traded down 0.42% at USD92.87 a barrel on Friday, off from a session high of USD93.56 and up from an earlier session low of USD91.97.
The U.S. employment number sparked fears that the U.S. economy will continue to face potholes on its road to recovery and will demand less energy and fuel going forward.
Softer-than-expected U.S. inventory figures kept prices lower as well.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report on Thursday that U.S. crude oil inventories rose by 2.71 million barrels in the week ended March 29, well above market forecasts for a gain of 2.20 million barrels.
Total U.S. crude oil inventories stood at 388.6 million barrels as of last week, well above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year.
The U.S. government also reported that total motor gasoline inventories decreased by 572,000 barrels, less than expectations for a decline of 852,000 barrels.
Rising oil inventories cemented growing concerns that the U.S. economy is awash in oil, which continued to pressure prices lower.
Elsewhere on the ICE Futures Exchange, Brent oil futures for May delivery were down 1.48% at USD104.77 a barrel, up USD11.90 from its U.S. counterpart.
Natural gas futures soared in afternoon trading on Friday after weather forecasting services predicted below-normal temperatures to arrive in the central plains and Midwest states next week.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas futures for delivery in May traded at USD4.106 per million British thermal units, up 4.04%.
The commodity hit a session low of USD3.932 and a high of USD4.122.
MDA Weather Services predicted earlier that colder-than-normal temperatures will grip the northern and central reaches of the country next week and push up demand for heating.
Elsewhere, warmer-than-normal temperatures predicted to arrive in the southeastern U.S. may prompt more households and businesses to run up their air conditioners and demand more natural gas as well.
Goldman Sachs, meanwhile, hiked its price estimate for this year by USD0.65 to an average USD4.40 per million British thermal units due to abnormally cold weather in March, which fueled the rally as well.
Supply data released on Thursday also supported prices.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report released earlier that natural gas storage in the U.S. in the week ended March 29 fell by 94 billion cubic feet, largely in line with market expectations for a drop of 91 billion cubic feet.
Inventories increased by 43 billion cubic feet in the same week a year earlier, while the five-year average change for the week is a build of 4 billion cubic feet.
Total U.S. natural gas storage stood at 1.687 trillion cubic feet as of last week. Stocks were 779 billion cubic feet less than last year at this time and 37 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 1.724 trillion cubic feet for this time of year.
The report showed that in the East Region, stocks were 76 billion cubic feet below the five-year average, following net withdrawals of 48 billion cubic feet.
Stocks in the Producing Region were 29 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 724 billion cubic feet after a net withdrawal of 42 billion cubic feet.