Markets

Dow drops more than 250 points, snaps 4-day winning streak amid coronavirus worries

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Good jobs report can't overcome market's fear of the coronavirus

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Stocks fell on Friday as worries over the coronavirus' impact on the Chinese economy outweighed the release of stronger-than-expected U.S. jobs data.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 277.26 points lower, or nearly 1%, to 29,102.51. The S&P 500 dipped 0.5% to 3,327.71. The Nasdaq Composite also slid 0.5% to close at 9,520.51. Those losses snapped a four-day winning streak for the major average. Still, stocks notched strong weekly gains despite Friday's losses. 

China's National Health Commission on Friday confirmed 31,131 cases of the deadly pneumonia-like virus in the country, with 636 deaths. These numbers have stoked worries about how China's economy — the second-largest in the world — will be affected. Chinese economic slowed down last year to 6.1% from 6.8% in 2018.

"China is really slowing and that's worrying people for sure," said Ed Hyman, chairman of Evercore ISI, on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "People are not going out. They are not shopping, and that's what's hurting particularly China." Hyman added he sees 0% growth for the Chinese economy this quarter

A Chinese man wears a protective mask as he walks during a snowfall in an empty and shuttered commercial street on February 5, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Haibin Zhu, a China equity strategist at JPMorgan, also cut his China GDP growth estimate to 1% for the first quarter.

President Donald Trump tweeted Friday that his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, is "focused on leading the counterattack on the Coronavirus."

Caterpillar and Boeing — two bellwether stocks for the global economy — fell 2.8% and 1.6%, respectively. Disney and Goldman Sachs also dropped more than 1% each to pressure the Dow. Materials, tech and health care led the S&P 500 500 lower as each sector declined by at least 0.9%.

The spike in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths came as investors pored through the latest U.S. jobs report. The U.S. economy added 225,000 jobs in January. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected a print of 158,000 jobs. Wages rose 3.1% on a year-over-year basis, also topping expectations.

"The biggest takeaway for investors is there are no monetary policy implications in this jobs report," said Jason Thomas, chief economist at AssetMark. "We're generating enough jobs to keep consumer confidence high and enough wage growth to bring in people from the sidelines."

But while the report shows a robust labor market, it may not be reflective of the most current economic conditions, Tom Hainlin of Ascent Private Capital Management.

"The challenge for investors is they're in this foggy place where all the economic data that's coming in is pre-coronavirus," he said. "So there's nothing really materially to grab on to in terms of the data."

"We won't get that data probably until the middle of March," Hainlin said.

The S&P 500 gained more than 3% week to date, and its best weekly performance since early June. The Dow climbed 3% for the week while the Nasdaq gained 4%.

The major averages reached record highs on Thursday boosted by China's decision to halve tariffs on a slew of U.S. products. The world's second-largest economy announced it would halve tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports on Thursday.

—CNBC's Sam Meredith and Michael Bloom contributed to this report.