Stocks end week lower after U.S. jobs data leaves Fed move unclear

Fri Sep 4, 2015 5:49pm EDT
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks on major markets fell on Friday, closing out another tough week for equity markets, after the monthly U.S. employment report failed to provide a clear signal on the likelihood of the first Federal Reserve interest rate rise for nearly a decade later this month.

The U.S. added 173,000 jobs in August, fewer than expected, but job gains in prior months were revised higher and the unemployment rate dropped to a seven year low at 5.1 percent.

"Regardless of the global dislocation for equities, investors still seem to be preparing for a lift-off in the fed funds rate," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market strategist at Interactive Brokers LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut. "There's not a lot to stop the onset of tightening at some point in the near future," he added.

U.S., European and Japanese stocks all ended the day and the week lower, though the euro and yen remained firm on Friday, while U.S. Treasury yields edged lower.

On Wall Street, S&P 500 index .SPX slid 1.53 percent to 1,921.22 and lost 3.4 percent for the week, but held above the three year low seen last week, with the Chinese stock market closed for a holiday for the last two days after it saw a two year low the previous week.

The CBOE Volatility Index , Wall Street's so-called fear gauge, closed up 7.89 percent at 27.63, at about double the level seen for the most part this year until last months bout of volatility.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index .FTEU3 closed down 2.5 percent to 1,392.63 points, and was off 3.0 percent for the week.

MSCI's all-country world stock index .MIWD00000PUS slid 1.65 percent, and lost 3.7 percent for the week, while its emerging markets index .MSCIEF fell 1.96 percent and lost 3.8 percent for the week.   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the market opened in New York September 4, 2015.  REUTERS/Lucas Jackson