NEW YORK – Stocks were slightly lower in early trading Friday after a report on the U.S. economy showed a significant slowdown in hiring last month, echoing weakness seen earlier in the week in Europe and Asia.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 37 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,623 as of 10:26 a.m. ET. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index lost seven points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,044 and the Nasdaq composite fell 23 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,695.
The government’s jobs report reinforced concerns that the U.S. economy is starting to slow. The Labor Department said employers created just 160,000 jobs in April. The unemployment rate remained steady at 5 percent. The amount of job creation was significantly below the 200,000 jobs that economists were expecting.
“Once again, we received evidence that the U.S. economy is just bumbling along and will most likely remain so until after the U.S. presidential election,” Tom di Galoma, a managing director of fixed income at Seaport Global, wrote in a report to clients. Di Galoma added that the April jobs report significantly reduces the possibility that the Federal Reserve will interest rates in June or even later this year. “In my view, a rate hike potential this year is nearing zero probability.”
Payment processing company Square dropped $2.33, or 18 percent, to $10.71. The company, run by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, reported a larger than expected quarterly loss and saw its expenses climb sharply in the quarter.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 35 cents to $44.67 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, climbed 41 cents to $45.40 a barrel in London.
U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.76 percent from 1.75 percent the day before. The euro rose to $1.1406 from $1.1398 and the dollar declined to 106.89 yen from 107.25 yen.