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US: Stocks dip after strong jobs report

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks Friday finished a buoyant week with a whimper, ending the session lower in a drop attributed to profit taking.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 60.59 points (0.34 per cent) at 17,824.29.

The broad-based S&P 500 lost 7.05 (0.34 per cent) at 2,055.47, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 20.70 (0.43 per cent) to 4,744.40.

Mace Blicksilver, director of Marblehead Asset Management, attributed Friday's losses primarily to profit taking. Even with Friday's performance, the Dow ended the week more than 650 points higher.

The losses followed a strong jobs report that sent US stocks higher in the morning.

The Labor Department said the US economy added 257,000 jobs in January, better than the 235,000 projected by analysts.

The report also included large upward revisions to jobs growth in November and December and said hourly wage growth gained 0.5 per cent, a big improvement after a December drop.

Dow member JPMorgan Chase (+2.0 per cent), Bank of America (+3.3 per cent) and other large banks rose. A Wells Fargo Advisors note said their gains were due to "rate hike speculation." Higher interest rates are a net positive for bank earnings.

Dow member Verizon rose 3.1 percent after the telecom giant announced the sale of landline operations in three states to Frontier Communications for US$10.54 billion and some 160 wireless towers to American Tower Corp for US$5.0 billion. The company also announced a US$5 billion share-repurchase program.

Frontier rose 3.0 per cent and American Tower dropped 3.9 per cent.

Microblogging company Twitter shot up 16.4 per cent as fourth-quarter revenue nearly doubled from a year ago, signaling the company is doing a better job of monetizing its users.

Defense contractor Exelis skyrocketed 36.3 per cent following news that it will be acquired by Harris, a supplier of military radios, for US$4.75 billion. Harris rose 9.6 per cent.

Intuit, which markets TurboTax and other popular financial-management software programs, lost 4.2 per cent after announcing that it suspended its transmission of state e-filing tax returns due to an uptick of fraudulent state tax filings using stolen identity information.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 1.95 per cent from 1.81 per cent Thursday, while the 30-year advanced to 2.53 per cent from 2.42 per cent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

AFP