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US: Jobs data knock Dow, S&P 500 from record pedestal

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[NEW YORK] Big-box retailers and petroleum producers were among the losers Friday as major US stock indices retreated from records following a disappointing jobs report.

The closely-watched September jobs report showed the US lost 33,000 jobs last month, according to Labor Department data. Both the Dow and S&P 500 fell slightly from record peaks, while the Nasdaq edged up to finish at a record for the sixth straight session.

Equity markets elsewhere were mixed, with Frankfurt and Paris declining, but London advancing on a weakening pound.

Madrid stocks shed 0.3 per cent amid a political crisis over Catalan.

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Market voices on:

"Cracks are appearing in Catalonia's move to independence, but until the notion of independence is dispelled, contagion risk remains," said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.

In the US, analysts had been expecting much slower hiring in September due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the economy had still been expected to add 75,000 jobs. Instead, data showed the first net loss since 2010.

The dreary headline figure was offset by other aspects of the report, with hourly wages rising and unemployment falling from 4.4 to 4.2 per cent.

Analysts said last month's data should be taken with a grain of salt.

"Sometimes you have to just sit back and relax, and this is one of those times," said economist Joel Naroff. "The decline in the number of jobs was a direct result of the hurricanes, and next month we are likely to see things turn around, probably with a vengeance."

US sectors with disproportionate losses on Friday included oil producers such as Chevron and ConocoPhillips, which shed more than one per cent.

Big box retailers were also weak after analysts expressed disappointment at the profit margin reported by Costco Wholesale.

Retailers have been hit by periodic waves of selling on worries that Amazon will drag on profits, a fear that also hit drugstore stocks on Friday.

Pharmacy chains CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance both fell almost five per cent on speculation that Amazon will soon enter the retail segment.

AFP