New York: U.S. stocks eased on Friday as concerns about more violence in Ukraine prompted profit-taking ahead of the weekend and offset optimism about the fastest job growth in more than two years.
Healthcare shares were among the biggest drags on the S&P 500, including U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc. Its shares fell 1.3 percent to USD 30.75 after its sweetened bid for AstraZeneca Plc was rejected.
Adding to market pressure, more than 40 people were killed in the Ukrainian city of Odessa on Friday in the worst violence in the Black Sea port since President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in February.
"Geopolitical tension has come back into the market. You`re going into a weekend and obviously events can unfold, so you`ve got profit-taking," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial, in Newark, New Jersey.
All three major indexes posted gains for the week. The Dow was up 0.9 percent, the S&P 500 was up 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq added 1.2 percent.
Oil prices rose on the Ukraine violence, lifting shares of Exxon Mobil and other energy companies, which limited some of the S&P 500`s decline.
Before the opening, data showed U.S. job growth picked up at its fastest pace in more than two years in April, suggesting a sharp rebound in economic activity early in the second quarter. The news was dampened by a sharp increase in people dropping out of the labor force, however.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 45.98 points or 0.28 percent, to 16,512.89, the S&P 500 lost 2.54 points or 0.13 percent, to 1,881.14 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 3.554 points or 0.09 percent, to 4,123.897.
LinkedIn Corp shares dropped 8.4 percent to USD 147.73, a day after the social networking company forecast 2014 revenue below expectations, the latest company to disappoint on sales this reporting period. Expedia shares fell 3.7 percent to USD 71.15, also after results.
So far in this earnings season, 75 percent of companies have beaten earnings expectations, above the 63 percent long-term average. But just 51.3 percent have exceeded sales expectations, below the 61 percent long-term average, continuing the recent trend, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Shares of Exxon, which reported results this week along with ConocoPhillips and Chevron, were up 0.6 percent at USD 102.01. Shares of ConocoPhillips gained 2 percent to USD 76.52 while the stock of Chevron, which posted a lower-than-expected quarterly profit on Friday, dipped 0.2 percent to USD 124.72.
The S&P 500 healthcare sector, down 0.8 percent, was among the day`s weakest sectors. Several multi-billion dollar deals and offers have been announced in the sector in recent weeks.
The Pfizer news "certainly has been a catalyst for profit-taking on big pharma," Krosby said.
Shares of Ares Management LP, the first U.S. private equity firm to go public in about two years, closed at USD 18.60 after pricing at USD 19, well below the expected range of USD 21-23, in a turbulent IPO market.
About 5.9 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 6.7 billion average over the past five days, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
First Published: Saturday, May 03, 2014, 09:30