U.S. Stocks Fluctuate Wildly Before Closing Mostly Lower

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Stocks fluctuated wildly over the course of the trading day on Friday before eventually ending the session mostly lower. With the drop on the day, the major averages extended the sell-off seen during trading on Thursday.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq tumbled 173.03 points or 1.4 percent to 12,144.66, once again hitting its lowest closing level in well over a year. The S&P 500 slid 23.53 points or 0.6 percent to a nearly one-year closing low of 4,123.34 and the Dow fell 98.60 points or 0.3 percent to a two-month closing low of 32,899.37.

During the extremely volatile week, the Nasdaq slumped by 1.5 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 both edged down by 0.2 percent.

The lower close on Wall Street came following the release of a closely watched Labor Department report showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of April.

The report showed non-farm payroll employment surged by 428,000 jobs in April, matching the revised jump seen in March.

Economists had expected employment to climb by 391,000 jobs compared to the addition of 431,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate came in unchanged at 3.6 percent versus expectations the rate would edge down to 3.5 percent.

With the report showing continued strength in the labor market, economists predicted the Federal Reserve will continue with its plans to raise interest rates relatively sharply over the coming months.

"Overall, with labor market conditions still this strong - including very rapid wage growth - we doubt that the Fed is going to abandon its hawkish plans because of the current bout of weakness in equities," Ashworth said.

Worries about the outlook for interest rates may have weighed on Wall Street along with a continued increase in treasury yields.

Sector News

Airline stocks moved sharply lower on the day, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index plummeting by 3.1 percent to a nearly two-month closing low.

Substantial weakness was also visible among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 2.8 percent plunged by NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index. The index ended the session at its lowest closing level in over two years.

Brokerage, networking and retail stocks also saw considerable weakness on the day, adding to the steep losses posted in the previous session.

On the other hand, energy stocks moved sharply higher over the course of the session, benefiting from a notable increase by the price of crude oil.

With crude for June delivery jumping $1.51 to $109.77 a barrel, the NYSE Arca Oil Index spiked by 3.1 percent to its best closing level in almost eight years.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Friday. China's Shanghai Composite Index plunged by 2.2 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plummeted by 3.8 percent, although Japan's Nikkei 225 Index bucked the uptrend and rose by 0.7 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the downside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 1.7 percent, the German DAX Index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively.

In the bond market, treasuries extended the sell-off seen in the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, climbed 5.7 basis points to 3.123 percent.

Looking Ahead

After some key economic events this past week, inflation data is likely to attract attention next week, with trading potentially impacted by reports on consumer prices, producer prices and import and export prices.

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