Wall St dips even as jobs data upbeat; healthcare declines

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks inched lower on Friday as an upbeat jobs report was offset by disappointing corporate results and a decline in healthcare shares.

US job growth picked up at its fastest pace in more than two years in April, suggesting a sharp rebound in economic activity early in the second quarter.

Yet on the results front, LinkedIn Corp shares dropped 6.9 per cent to US$150.06 (S$188.12), a day after the social networking company forecast 2014 revenue below Wall Street's expectations, the latest company to disappoint on sales this reporting period. Expedia shares fell 4.9 per cent to US$70.26 also after reporting results.

Analysts said investors have had a tougher time picking the winners this year, with the S&P 500 up just 1.8 per cent for the year so far, after its huge 30-per cent rise in 2013. "It's made a lot of difference how you're positioned in the market how you've done this year whereas last year it was kind of everything went up," said Ed Cowart, managing director and portfolio manager at Eagle Asset Management. "Generally, it was hard not to make money in the market last year, and this year it's been a little more difficult."

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc's shares were down 1.4 per cent at US$30.70 after its sweetened 63 billion pound bid for AstraZeneca Plc was promptly rejected by the British company Friday.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.57 points or 0.26 per cent, to 16,516.3, the S&P 500 lost 2.38 points or 0.13 per cent, to 1,881.3 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.705 points or 0.04 per cent, to 4,125.746.

So far in this earnings season, 75 per cent of companies have beaten earnings expectations, above the long-term average, but just 51.3 per cent have exceeded revenue expectations, below the long-term average, Thomson Reuters data showed.

Shares of Merck also lost ground. German drugmaker Bayer AG is nearing an agreement to buy Merck & Co Inc's consumer healthcare unit, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could value the business at around US$14 billion.

Merck shares were down 2.4 per cent at US$58.17.