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Amazon jitters offset upbeat jobs data on Wall Street

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York. Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters New Delhi, Delhi, India Feb 02, 2019, 10.25 PM (IST)

Wall Street ended mixed on Friday, as optimism from a surge in January US job growth was offset by a weaker-than-expected outlook from Amazon that battered retail stocks.

The online retail heavyweight slumped 5.38 per cent after its quarterly sales forecast fell short of Wall Street estimates, overshadowing its record sales and profit during the holiday season.

Those results put the Nasdaq in negative territory, while retailers Walmart Inc, Macy's Inc and Kohl's Corp each dropped more than 2 per cent. The S&P consumer discretionary index fell 1.77 per cent.

A US Labor Department report showed nonfarm payrolls jumped by 304,000 jobs last month, the largest gain since February 2018 and beating economists' expectations for an increase of 165,000.

That report, along with better-than-expected ISM manufacturing activity numbers for January, pointed to underlying strength in the economy despite an uncertain outlook that has left the Federal Reserve wary about more US interest rate hikes this year.

"What the unemployment report is telling you is that people want to go back to work," said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at GlobAlt Investments in Atlanta. "The consumer needs to be strong, and if the consumer is employed, the consumer will stay strong."

Even as the US economy remains on a stable footing, investors are concerned that a slowdown overseas could hurt profit growth, with high-profile companies such as Apple Inc warning of slower demand in China.

Data showed China's manufacturing sector shrank in January for the second straight month, heightening risks for global growth amid a trade war with the United States.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 0.26 per cent to end the week at 25,063.89 points, while the S&P 500 edged 0.09 per cent higher to 2,706.53.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.25 per cent to 7,263.87.

The S&P 500 rose 1.6 per cent for the week and the benchmark index is up 8 per cent so far in 2019, but it still remains 8 per cent below its record high close on Sept. 20, 2018.

The Dow added 1.3 per cent for the week and the Nasdaq gained 1.4 per cent.

During Friday's session, Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp jumped more than 3 per cent apiece after the oil majors reported better-than-expected quarterly profits, boosting the Dow Jones Industrials.

The S&P energy index rallied 1.83 per cent, also helped by higher oil prices.

Cigna Corp slid 2.88 per cent lower after the health insurer forecast 2019 revenue and earnings below estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.37-to-1 ratio favoured advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 51 new highs and 20 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 7.5 billion shares, compared with the 7.7 billion share average over the last 20 trading days.

Story highlights

The online retail heavyweight slumped 5.38 per cent after its quarterly sales forecast fell short of Wall Street estimates, overshadowing its record sales and profit during the holiday season.