Wall Street's edged lower on Friday in a choppy session as investors grappled with a weaker-than-expected job report, the U.S. airstrike in Syria, and a top Fed official's comments. Fred Katayama reports.
The U.S. missile strike on Syria sent investors scurrying to safe-havens, and weak jobs data weighed on financial stocks. Wall Street finished in the red Also pressuring stocks: New York Fed President William Dudley's comments on the Fed's plan to reduce its balance sheet. U.S. employers added a disappointing 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest since last May. To blame - bad weather, which hit hiring at construction sites - but also layoffs in the retail sector. On the other hand, wage growth ticked up slightly and the unemployment rate fell. Late on Thursday, the United States fired several missiles at an airfield in Syria in response to a chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians earlier this week. Global stocks fell on the news, but most of the losses ebbed after U.S. officials said there won't be wider escalation. Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. (SOUNDBITE) PETER CARDILLO, CHIEF MARKET ECONOMIST, FIRST STANDARD FINANCIAL, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The action taken by Mr. Trump in a certain sense sets, perhaps, a new standard for the geopolitical problems like we might encounter in the future. As far as the employment data is concerned, there is no question that it was a weak number, certainly a disappointing one, but, you know, I think that it may be an aberration." The news of the U.S. missile strike in Syria sent stocks of military contractors higher. Among them, Raytheon, producer of the Tomahawk cruise missiles used in the strike, as well as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman. Gold hit a five-month high, and crude also rose. Wal-Mart got a boost after Telsey Advisory upgraded its stock to "outperform." European shares inched higher on rising oil prices.