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Stocks slip as jobs report disappoints

A Wall Street sign near the flag-draped facade

A Wall Street sign near the flag-draped facade of the New York Stock Exchange on May 11, 2007. Credit: AP / Richard Drew

Stocks slipped Thursday as jobs data reflected a more moderate pace of economic growth than expected and investors awaited Greece's weekend referendum on austerity measures.

At the close on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index was down less than a point at 2,076.8. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 27.8 points, about 0.2 percent, to 17,730.1. The Nasdaq composite index fell nearly 4 points, about 0.1 percent, to 5,009.2.

As the markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil, which had been gaining all day, slipped 36 cents to $56.60 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

U.S.-listed shares of BP rose 5.1 percent after the company reached an $18.7 billion settlement with four Gulf states to resolve litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. At the close it was up $2.02 at $41.29.

"This data shows the economy isn't quite as strong as many had believed," said analyst Tim Ghriskey, who helps oversee $1.5 billion at Solaris Asset Management. "The drop in the participation rate is a big issue. But these in-line to soft numbers are what the market likes, and we're seeing a rally because of them."

JOBS DATA. A U.S. Labor Department report Thursday showed the addition of 223,000 jobs in June followed a 254,000 increase in the prior month that was less than previously estimated. The jobless rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent as more people left the labor force. Average hourly earnings at private employers held at $24.95.

The economy has just completed its sixth year of expansion since the recession ended in June 2009. While the job market has rebounded, faster wage growth has been slow to follow suit. The participation rate, which indicates the share of the working-age people in the labor force, decreased to 62.6 percent, the lowest since October 1977, from 62.9 percent.

FACTORY ORDERS. Factory orders declined 1 percent in May from April, when orders retreated 0.7 percent, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Orders in a category that serves as a proxy for business investment were down 0.4 percent.

GREECE'S DEBT CRISIS. Greece's rescue lenders have halted negotiations on a new financial aid program until after the vote on whether to accept reforms the creditors proposed last week in exchange for bailout loans.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has staunchly advocated a "no," saying it would put the country in a stronger negotiating position with creditors. But European officials and the Greek opposition have warned such an outcome could be tantamount to a decision to leave the euro.

This story includes reports from Bloomberg News and The Associated Press.

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