U.S. stocks traded lower Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average extending losses for the seventh straight session, as investors weighed a strong employment report for July. The solid job gains place the odds in favor of an interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve as early as September, a move that would mark the central bank's first rate increase in nearly a decade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped 122.40 points, or 0.70 percent, to 17,297. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 13.13 points, or 0.63 percent, to 2,070. And the Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) lost 40.56 points, or 0.80 percent, to 5,015.34.
U.S. employment rose by 215,000 jobs in July and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.3 percent, the Labor Department said Friday.
Although the headline number came in slightly below forecasts of 223,000 jobs last month, anything above 200,000 is a good number, said Gus Faucher, senior macroeconomist at PNC Financial Services Group.
“It’s a very solid report,” Faucher said. “Generally, there have been job gains across most industries, and that’s a positive.”
There were broad-based gains in construction, manufacturing and the professional services industries. The only exception was mining, which is still suffering from a yearlong downturn in energy prices.
Following the release of the Labor Department’s employment report for July, all 10 S&P 500 sectors traded lower, led by a more than 1 percent decline in healthcare.
So far this week the Dow has lost nearly 2 percent, hovering at its lowest point in six months after mixed earnings from media conglomerate Walt Disney Co. (NYSE:DIS) weighed on the index.
Dow components DuPont Co. (NYSE:DD) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT) led the index lower Friday, dropping 1.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively. Credit card issuer Visa Inc. was the biggest gainer in the index, up nearly 1 percent.
Nasdaq also extended losses, driven by declines in biotech stocks, which pushed the index's healthcare sector 1.5 percent lower. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell 4 percent a day earlier, snapping a five-day winning streak after drugmaker Allergan Plc's Actavis unit received a subpoena from the U.S. Justice Department, seeking information on the marketing and prices of its generic drugs.