U.S. stock benchmarks closed lower Friday, but managed to finish off the day's worst levels, as investors wrestled with weaker-than-expected November jobs report. The Labor Department report showed that a mere 210,000 new jobs were created in the U.S. in November, well below estimates from economists polled by The Wall Street Journal for a gain of 573,000 new jobs. However, analysts say the lackluster jobs gain isn't likely to alter the Federal Reserve's plan to accelerate the scaling back of its monthly bond purchases at policy makers' next meeting in less than two weeks. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and other members of the central bank's rate-setting committee have suggested that a faster tapering of asset purchases could be warranted to combat rising inflation pressures. The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +0.60% closed down 0.2% on Friday to reach 34,580, but the index had hit an intraday low at 34,264.57. For the week, the index closed down 0.9% to mark the fourth straight weekly decline. The S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +0.16% closed the day down 0.8% at 4,538 but had touched an intraday nadir at 4,495.10, while the Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.47% ended down 1.9% at 15,085. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 1.2%, for its second straight weekly drop, while the Nasdaq Composite booked a 2.6% weekly skid.
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