U.S. stocks declined on Friday, losing gains that had lifted the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 above their record closes, as rising unrest in Ukraine offset a better-than-expected April jobs report.
"It's very clear that this situation is unresolved, and the markets are watching closely. It's also a situation where many investors will see headlines and perhaps elect not to hold stocks over the weekend," said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist for US Bank Wealth management.
On Friday, Russia requested an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council over a Ukrainian army operation.
"It's the uncertainty that matters," said Randy Frederick, managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab, of the geopolitical concerns that offset gains that came with the largely upbeat data on the labor front.
The U.S. Labor Department reported the creation of 288,000 jobs in April from an upwardly revised 203,000 in March, with the jobless rate at 6.3 percent. Expectations called for the addition of 210,000 jobs during April. Analysts polled by Reuters also saw unemployment falling to 6.6 percent.
"The average person should be happy with this report, as the bottom-line number shows we were able to bounce back from the deep freeze we were in," Marc Doss, regional chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank, said of Friday's much anticipated nonfarm payrolls report.
Still, investors fretted over the data's impact on Federal Reserve moves ahead and also cited a drop in the labor pool as dampening cheer.
"The big question that'll come in is the labor participation rate, that's going to be the constant concern here," said Art Hogan, market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, referring to the numbers of those looking for work as declining by 806,000.
"That 6.3 percent unemployment rate will cause people to wonder when the Fed is going to start raising rates," said Doss.
"We thought there was a pretty good shot that the jobs number would be stronger than the consensus estimate, and also reasonably convinced that the market would discount to some degree a strong number as a bit of a weather-related snapback from January, February and March," said Russell.
"We're less than convinced that a true and clean run rate that is sustainable for the monthly jobs gains in the private sector has been established," Russell added.
After climbing above its all-time closing high set on April 30, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 45.98 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,512.89, with Merck & Co., Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer pacing losses that included 18 of 30 components.
Merck and Endocyte both fell after saying they had halted a late-stage trial of their experimental ovarian cancer drug.
Utilities and health care led sector declines materials and energy fared the best on the , which had climbed to a session high of 1,891.44, above its record close set April 2. It finished down 2.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,881.14.
The Nasdaq lost 3.55 points, or nearly 0.1 percent, to 4,123.90.
For every three shares falling, roughly four gained on the New York Stock Exchange, where just over 700 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 3.2 billion.
The dollar held steady against the currencies of major U.S. trading partners and the 10-year Treasury yield used in determining mortgage rates and other consumer loans dropped 3 basis points to 2.589 percent.
Thursday, stocks fluctuated as investors took a cautious approach ahead of Friday's jobs report.