Stocks Limp to Losses on Weak Jobs and Factory Data

traders on stock exchange
traders on stock exchange

Stocks closed broadly lower Friday after the monthly unemployment report and May factory orders added to the evidence supporting a slow, sluggish U.S. recovery. The major averages nearly staged a late-day rally into positive territory but then sputtered to a close on light volume going into the July 4th holiday weekend.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) fell 46 points, or 0.5%, to close at 9,686. The broader S&P 500 ($INX) dropped 5, or 0.5%, to 1,023. The more volatile, tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) shed 10 points, or 0.5%, to finish at 2,092.

"Memories of the market's gyrations this week weren't inspiring too much bidding action today, especially ahead of a long holiday weekend," John Stoltzfus, market strategist at Ticonderoga Securities, told clients in a note. "The real action or epilogue to this week's chapter of market action looks to belong to next week and not to this day."

Losing Steam

Which is probably just as well, since the June employment report essentially ended in a tie between bulls and bears. The good news is that the economy created 83,000 private sector jobs last month.

The bad news is that the figure was well below economists' average forecast -- as well as the 120,000 or so new jobs needed every month just to keep pace with demographics. But given the rash of recent subpar economic data, it's hard to complain about any gain.

Separately, in the latest bit of data suggesting that the economic recovery is losing steam, May factory orders unexpectedly fell 1.4% -- the largest decline since March 2009. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg survey expected the figure to fall 0.5% after a 1% gain in April, which was revised down from the previously released 1.2% gain.

For more on the market's reaction to the jobs report, see the video below: