Stocks traded mixed after fluctuating in a narrow range earlier Friday as investors considered a surprisingly small jobs gain in January amid a slew of stronger economic reports out earlier this week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell les than 10 points on Friday, a day after the market closed moderately higher on Thursday, although the Dow ended at another 2 1/2-year high,after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke indicated the central bank would continue to stimulate the economy.
JPMorgan and Bank of America led Dow components lower, while Boeing and Cisco gained.
The S&P 500 fell slightly, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose. The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell to nearly 16.
Among key S&P 500 sectors, utilities, energy and financials fell, while technology rose.
The dollar gained against a basket of currenciesas the euro fell, while the price of gold rose to more than $1,353 an ounce.
Oil prices are falling as the dollar gains and on speculation the Egyptian government will be making an annoucement regarding Mubarek's future. U.S. light crude fell below $90 a barrel and Brent crude fell below $100 a barrel.
In economic news, the government reported only 36,000 jobs were added to nonfarm payrollsin January, up from a 103,000 gain in December. The unemployment rate, however, fell to 9 percent, the lowest level since April 2009, and down from 9.4 percent in December, the Labor Department said.
The number of jobs added was far less than the 145,000 analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected. Severe weather throughout the country may have caused a 32,000 drop in construction jobs and a 45,000 drop in courier and messenger jobs, the government said. In one bright sign, manufacturing added 49,000 jobs.
Stocks may not be trading off more despite the weak payrolls report because Treasury's are selling off sharply, sending the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond to 4.7 percent, and the 10-year note to 3.6 percent.
The move is providing some evidence the 30-year bull-market in bonds may be coming to an end, said Tom Schrader, managing director for U.S. Equity trading at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets.
"When people really start paying attention, they’ll move out of interest-rate sensitive issues, and possibly into equities," Schrader said.
Another reason for some support in equities is traders are focusing on revisions within the payrolls report and news that manufacturing jobs are gaining, he said.