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US: Stocks fall for 5th straight day

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Wall Street stocks finished lower on Friday following a weak February US jobs report, concluding the market's worst week of 2019 so far.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished lower on Friday following a weak February US jobs report, concluding the market's worst week of 2019 so far.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.1 per cent at 25,450.24.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.2 per cent to 2,743.05, and the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index also dropped 0.2 per cent to 7,408.14.

Stocks fell all five days of the week, although the declines on some of the days were small. The S&P 500 ended the week down 2.2 per cent.

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"The message this week is more of a weakening economy," said Tom Cahill, portfolio strategist at Ventura Wealth Management.

US jobs growth ground to a virtual halt in February, with the economy adding just 20,000 positions, well below expectations and the worst showing since September 2017.

Still, analysts are unlikely to give too much weight to a single month's data. FTN Financial's Chris Low noted that even with the February figures, the three-month average was 186,000 jobs added per month.

The labour data follow other recent signs of global economic slowing, including Thursday's sharply lower growth outlook by the European Central Bank that prompted new stimulus measures.

Analysts also cited comments from US Ambassador to China Terry Barnstad that a US-China trade deal still was not imminent as a factor in Friday's tepid trading.

"All those things came together and painted a picture of the global economy trying to find a bottom in the growth rate," said Cahill. "Investors are looking for that to stabilise and perhaps move a little higher before risk assets can climb again."

Among individual companies, Costco Wholesale surged 5.1 per cent after reporting quarterly earnings of US$2.01 per share, much better than the US$1.82 projected by analysts.

AFP