Stocks flat as traders weigh weak jobs data, Syria

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm •  Published: September 6, 2013
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The price of oil surged to its highest level in more than two years on the on a combination of fear of escalating tension in the Middle East and hope for continued stimulus measures from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Benchmark oil for October delivery rose $2.16, or 2 percent, to close at $110.53 a barrel in New York. That's the highest closing price since May 3, 2011.

Even after a bumpy Friday, the S&P 500 index had its best week in two months. The S&P 500 rose 1.4 percent for the week.

U.S. employers added 169,000 jobs in August, fewer than the 177,000 economists had forecast. The number of jobs added in July was estimated by the government at 104,000, down from an earlier 162,000.

"This was a horrible set of jobs figures, starting with large revision to last month's number," Tom di Galoma, head of fixed-income rates sales at ED&F Man Capital, wrote in an email to clients.

Friday's jobs survey is the last major piece of economic data the Fed will have to consider before its September 17-18 policy meeting, when it will decide the fate of its large bond-buying program.

The Fed has been buying $85 billion in Treasurys and other bonds each month to keep interest rates at historic lows and to encourage spending and borrowing. It was widely believed that the Fed would start phasing out its purchases this month.

Most market watchers still believe the Fed will start easing back in September, however the amount of the pullback may be smaller, Nuveen's Chalupnik said.

Stocks making big moves included:

— Mattress Firm, which plunged $6.10, or 15 percent, to $35.59 after the company reported a second-quarter profit that fell far below financial analysts' expectations.

— VeriFone Systems jumped $2.09, or 10 percent, to $22.81 after the electronic payment terminal maker reported third-quarter results on Thursday that beat Wall Street expectations.

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