Wall Street opens lower after jobs report shocker

The Labor Department's closely watched employment report showed nonfarm payrolls decreased by 33,000 jobs last month.
The Labor Department's closely watched employment report showed nonfarm payrolls decreased by 33,000 jobs last month.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street opened lower on Friday (Oct 6) after a report showed US employment fell in September for the first time in seven years as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left displaced workers temporarily unemployed and delayed hiring.

The Labor Department's closely watched employment report showed nonfarm payrolls decreased by 33,000 jobs last month, the latest indication that the storms undercut economic activity in the third quarter. Economists polled by Reuters had expected jobs to rise by 90,000.

One bright spot was the better-than-expected rise in average wages, up 0.5 per cent, compared with estimates of a 0.3 per cent increase.

"In any normal month, this print would have sent tremors across global markets, but September was no normal month," said Marcus Bullus, trading director at MB Capital.

"Traders were pricing in a weak print given the severe disruption caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and even though it came in far worse than expected, the markets will go into the weekend feeling there is no reason to panic."

At 9.34am ET (9.34pm Singapore time), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 27.86 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 22,747.53, the S&P 500 was down 4.6 points, or 0.18 per cent, at 2,547.47. The Nasdaq Composite was down 13.79 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 6,571.57.

The decline could snap this week's record-setting run for the indexes. The S&P 500 had marked its sixth straight record closing high on Thursday, in large part due to gains in the technology index. However, on Friday the sector fell 0.3 per cent and dragged down the broader index.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,849 to 661. On the Nasdaq, 1,411 issues fell and 842 advanced.