Stocks were headed to their fourth straight weekly decline on Friday as the Obama bear market gained momentum off the weak jobs number.
The labor department earlier reported that 651,000 jobs were lost in February and that the unemployment rate rose to 8.1%. But when taking into account those working part-time because full-time work was not available, along with persons too discouraged to continue looking for work, the rate of unemployment stood at 14.8%, up sharply from January's 13.9%.
Mohamed El-Erian, the chief executive of Pimco, said Friday's data showing a precipitous drop in U.S. non-farm payrolls in February show how profitable firms are bracing for a more difficult economy by shedding jobs.
The situation is getting worse, not better, El-Erian told Reuters Television on Friday. Unemployment numbers are usually viewed as background-looking. What today's number tells you is forward-looking. It tells you that even the profitable firms are shedding labor today in order to position themselves for a more difficult outcome.
In recent trade, the DOW was lower by 0.35%. The broader S&P was declining by 0.53% and the NASDAQ 1.20%.
The dollar was mixed on the day, with losses of 1.00% to the euro, 0.19% on the yen and 0.33% against Australia's dollar as it gained 0.14% on the pound.
Crude for March delivery was recently trading 2.18% higher while April gold gained 1.39%.