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US: Stocks flat as May jobs report disappoints


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks were little changed early Friday after the Labor Department reported the US economy added just 138,000 jobs in May, far fewer than expected. analyst Patrick O'Hare called the jobs report "surprisingly weak," pointing out that wage growth remained tepid despite the drop in the unemployment rate to 4.3 per cent, a 16-year low.

"The key takeaway from the employment report is that wage inflation continues to be dormant despite increased hiring activity," Mr O'Hare said. "That understanding will temper concerns about the Fed having to walk an aggressive rate-hike path."

But some economists note that seasonal factors could make the May data appear weaker, and expect a rebound in coming months.

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Most analysts still believe the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this month, but weaker data, if it persists, could affect the expected course additional rate increases.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 21,145.49, up a hair.

The broad-based S&P 500 was down slightly to 2,430.04, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.2 per cent to 6,257.70.

All three indices closed at records on Thursday.

Airline shares gained after Delta Air lines reported a 3.5 per cent increase in the ratio of revenue per seat mile in May. Delta, United Continental and American Airlines all won more than one per cent.

Energy shares fell on tumbling oil prices with Chevron dropping 0.8 per cent, Halliburton 1.0 per cent and Apache 1.4 per cent.

Yoga attire maker Lululemon Athletica shot up 13.1 per cent after projecting second-quarter sales of between US$565 million and US$570 million, more than analysts expect.