(Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes were little changed on Friday in choppy trading after data showed weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs and wages growth in April, while unemployment rate dropped to a 17-1/2-year low.
The Labor Department’s closely watched report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 164,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate was at 3.9 percent. However, wages edged up only 0.1 percent, easing concerns that inflation pressures were increasing.
“It’s a goldilocks number … the top line missed a little bit from consensus expectations, however you had the unemployment rate drop below 4 percent, lowest since December of 2000,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors in Boston.
“Investors continue to look for signs of inflation and we really didn’t get any. I don’t see this particular report changing the Fed’s path or the recent trend.”
After the data, stock futures initially cut some of their losses, before reversing course to drop sharply and finally ended up little changed from their levels before the report.
“It really is a mystery these days to me in terms of how market participants are reacting,” Arone said.
At 9:59 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 11.33 points, or 0.05 percent, at 23,941.48, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 0.34 points, or 0.01 percent, at 2,629.39 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 14.01 points, or 0.20 percent, at 7,102.16.
Yield on the 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR, the benchmark for global interest rates, fell to 2.9384 percent after the report. [US/]
Investors were also watchful of details coming in after China and the United States held talks in Beijing to settle trade differences.
China has offered to buy more U.S. goods and lower tariffs on some items, including cars, Reuters reported after Xinhua news agency said the talks had made progress on some aspects, though disagreements over other issues remained.
Pandora Media (P.N) jumped 18.1 percent after the music streaming service provider reported a smaller-than-expected quarterly loss.
Newell Brands (NWL.N) rose nearly 3 percent after the consumer products maker announced the sale of its unit Waddington Group for about $2.3 billion. The company also reported a better-than-expected profit.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.03-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded five new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 27 new highs and 29 new lows.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta