US stocks end lower despite good jobs report

A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
A trader working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks ended lower on Friday despite signs of stability in Chinese equities and a strong US jobs report, concluding a gloomy first week of 2016 on a negative note.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 167.65 points (1.02 per cent) to 16,346.45.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 21.06 (1.08 per cent) to 1,922.03, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 45.80 (0.98 per cent) at 4,643.63.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 lost about 6 per cent for the week.

US equities had opened higher after the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose, following days of turmoil, and the Labour Department reported the US economy added a better-than-expected 292,000 jobs in December.

But the rally, after Thursday's steep selloff, soon lost steam and stocks veered into negative territory at mid-afternoon.

Factors behind the drop included another decline in oil prices and investor caution ahead of the weekend due to myriad uncertainties, including the Chinese economic outlook and a worsening diplomatic rift between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

"You've got plenty of things to contemplate heading into the weekend," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

"It's not an environment that would manifest a lot of long investing."

Banking stocks were weak, with JPMorgan Chase losing 2.2 per cent, Citigroup 3 per cent and Bank of American 1.9 per cent.

Most petroleum-linked stocks fell as Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron respectively lost 2 per cent and 1.1 per cent and oil-services company Weatherford International shed 5 per cent.

Among technology companies, Cisco Systems lost 2.5 per cent and Google parent Alphabet shed 1.6 per cent, but Dow members Apple and Microsoft climbed 0.5 per cent and 0.3 per cent, respectively.

Apparel chain Gap slumped 14.3 per cent after reporting December sales fell four percent to US$2 billion following negative comparable sales in all three major divisions: Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy.

Campbell Soup rose 0.6 per cent after announcing it would label whether its products contain genetically modified organisms, a first among big US food producers.