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US: Stocks fall as jobs data muddies Fed rate hike decision


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks fell Friday after a mixed US jobs report clouded prospects for a Federal Reserve interest rate increase amid China-induced global market turmoil.

The broad-based S&P 500 retreated 29.91 points (1.53 per cent) to 1,921.22. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 272.38 (1.66 per cent) at 16,102.38 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 49.58 (1.05 per cent) to 4,683.92.

The Labour Department reported the economy added fewer jobs than forecast, 173,000, but the previous two months' job gains were revised upward, pushing the unemployment rate down more than expected to 5.1 per cent.

It was the last major jobs data before the Fed's policy arm, the Federal Open Market Committee, meets on September 16-17 to consider raising the key federal funds rate for the first time since 2006.

"There is ample ammunition from this job reports both for those that think that rates should be raised at the next Fed meeting, and for those that think they should not," said Michael James at Wedbush Securities.

US equities spent the entire day in the red, joining a pullback overseas that led to sharp losses in major European and Asian markets.