Stocks closed Friday's trading session only moderately lower and well off of session lows after a series of disappointing economic reports.
For the most part, investors shrugged off surprising nonfarm payrolls data and losses for the major averages were contained. In other news, the USD/JPY continued to rise sharply in the wake of the announcement of a massive bond buying program by the Bank of Japan earlier in the week.
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The S&P 500 finished the week down around 1 percent, but is still up around 9 percent on the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost around 41 points, or 0.28 percent, to 14,565.
The S&P 500 shed almost 7 points, or 0.43 percent, to close at 1,553.
The Nasdaq Composite fell 21 points, or 0.65 percent, to 3,204.
Nonfarm payrolls plunged for the month of March, triggering investor unease on Wall Street. The economy added just 88,000 jobs in March compared to 268,000 new jobs in February. This was way below economists' consensus expectations of 192,000 jobs added in the month.
Private nonfarm payrolls figures were also disappointing. The private sector added only 95,000 jobs in March compared to 254,000 in February and estimates of 210,000.
Despite the disappointing nonfarm payroll figures, the unemployment rate fell from 7.7 percent in February to 7.6 percent for the month of March. This was ahead of consensus estimates calling for no change at 7.7 percent.
Hourly earnings data was also below expectations. For the month of March, hourly earnings were unchanged compared to expectations of a rise of 0.2 percent. In February, hourly earnings rose 0.1 percent.
Consumer credit rose sharply in February, although the numbers may be subject to significant revisions as consumer credit is notoriously volatile. Credit increased by $18.1 billion in February compared to a downwardly revised $12.7 billion in January. This compared to consensus estimates of an increase in consumer credit of $14.0 billion in February.
Energy prices fell on Friday to close out the trading week. NYMEX crude futures were down 0.40 percent to $92.90 in late afternoon trade. Brent futures had lost almost 2 percent and were last at $104.23. Natural gas rose sharply on the day, however, and was last up 4.64 percent to $4.12.
As stocks fell on Friday, precious metals prices rose. At last check, COMEX gold futures had climbed 1.62 percent to $1,579.40. Silver was up 1.77 percent to $27.24. Copper futures were trading down 0.25 percent near the close of equity trading.
Bond prices soared on Friday as investor risk appetite was slashed amid disappointing economic data. Near the close of equity trading, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) was up around 2 percent to $122.77. The sharp rise in prices sent yields lower.
Although the 2-Year Note yield held steady at 0.23 percent, the 5-Year Note yield fell two basis points to 0.68 percent. The 10-Year Note yield fell six basis points to 1.70 percent and the 30-Year Bond yield plunged a full twelve basis points to 2.87 percent.
The U.S. dollar was slightly lower on Friday. Near the close of trading, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was down 0.18 percent to $22.45.
The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last trading up around 0.63 percent to $1.3012. Investors also continued to abandon the Japanese yen in light of a major quantitative easing program announced by the Bank of Japan. The USD/JPY climbed 1.40 percent on the session. The GBP/USD was last up 0.69 percent and the AUD/USD fell 0.50 percent on risk aversion.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX was flat on the day despite a lower equity market. The widely watched barometer of market fear closed the session at 13.89.
As stocks fell, volume picked up on Friday. Around 136 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 123.5 million.
Shares of NII Holdings (NASDAQ:NII), which have been very active in recent days, surged around 20 percent near the close of equity trading on Friday after announcing that it had sold its Peruvian business to Chilean phone company Entel for $400 million. The stock jumped around 25 percent on Wednesday when market rumors about the deal first surfaced.
Yelp (NASDAQ:YELP) surged better than 8 percent on Friday in what appeared to be a technical breakout. There was no news to account for the move in the stock.
Shares of Ultra Petroleum (NYSE:UPL) climbed more than 7 percent on Friday. The stock has recently been seeing some insider buying and analysts at Brean Murray upgraded UPL to Buy earlier in the week.
F5 Networks (NASDAQ:FFIV) plunged 19 percent after the company cut its fiscal second-quarter guidance.
Allied Nevada Gold (NYSE:ANV) added to steep losses in 2013 on Friday, with the stock falling more than 9 percent. Shares have been falling on an almost daily basis in recent months.
Exide Technologies (NASDAQ:XIDE) jumped around 17 percent after the company said that it has retained an adviser to review its financing options.
Shares of Pandora Media (NYSE:P) fell almost 8 percent on Friday as investors worried that Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iRadio could hurt the company.
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