NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are edging between small gains and losses in early trading on Wall Street Friday following news the U.S. economy added fewer jobs than expected in August.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down one point at 13,291 after the first hour of trading. The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up three at 1,436 and the Nasdaq was up less than a point at 3,136.
The government reported that 96,000 jobs were created in the U.S. last month, fewer than economists were expecting. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, but only because more people gave up looking for work.
Tech bellwether Intel dealt the market a blow by cutting its revenue outlook because of weak demand for its semiconductors. Intel fell 79 cents, or 3 percent, to $24.30.
The small stock gains follow big ones Thursday. U.S. stocks hit four-year highs after the European Central Bank announced plans to buy an unlimited amount of short-term government bonds from struggling countries in the region such as Italy and Spain. The hope is that the borrowing costs of those countries will ease, making a breakup of the 17-nation euro zone less likely.
The weak jobs report in the U.S. increased expectations that the Federal Reserve could announce more steps at its meeting next week to encourage lending and keep interest rates low by buying Treasury bonds.
Analysts from RBS wrote in a note to investors that they now see the likelihood of the Fed announcing new asset purchases next week at 90 percent. “We expect the Fed to act in September,” they wrote.
Bond prices rose as a result, sending their yields lower. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.60 percent from 1.67 percent late Thursday.
Overseas, the new bond-buying plan by the European Central Bank sent stocks up sharply. The Hang Seng index in China rose 4 percent, and Japan’s Nikkei rose 2 percent.
Most major markets in Europe are rising, too. Benchmark indexes rose 0.7 percent in Germany and 0.6 percent in France. Italy’s main index rose 2 percent.