* March U.S. jobs growth lowest since last May
* U.S. fires missiles at Syrian air base
* Stocks pull back after remarks by Fed's Dudley
* All three major indexes virtually flat
(Updates to close, adds commentary)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, April 7 Wall Street's three major
indexes edged lower on Friday in a choppy session as investors
grappled with a weaker-than-expected job report, the U.S.
airstrike in Syria and a top Federal Reserve official's comments
on trimming the U.S. central bank's balance sheet.
Investors were trying to work out how the developments would
affect U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to proceed with his
The market rallied sharply after Trump's Nov. 8 election on
his promises for tax cuts, spending and lighter regulation, but
investors increasingly have been questioning whether the
proposals would ever materialize.
"You had so many confusing things happening today. The
employment number was certainly surprising. The U.S. airstrike
was surprising. People were trying to figure out what that
meant," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm
LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 6.85
points, or 0.03 percent, at 20,656.1, the S&P 500 lost
1.95 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,355.54 and the Nasdaq
Composite dropped 1.14 points, or 0.02 percent, to
All three indexes ended slightly lower for the week. Six of
the S&P's 11 major sectors ended down on the day.
U.S. employers added about 98,000 jobs in March, the fewest
since last May and well below economists' expectation of
180,000, as bad weather hit construction hiring. However, wage
growth edged up and unemployment fell.
New York Fed President William Dudley on Friday shed more
light on the U.S. central bank's developing plan for when to
stop replacing bonds that expire in its portfolio, how to
execute it, and how far it would ultimately shrink its balance
U.S. Treasury yields rose after Dudley's remarks, which
helped push equities lower, according to Paul Zemsky, chief
investment officer, Multi-Asset Strategies and Solutions, at
Voya Investment Management in New York.
LibertyView's Meckler said Dudley's remarks were not
earth-shattering but "small statements are having a magnified
affect because investors are worried."
The United States, in a pre-dawn strike, fired missiles at
an airfield from which it said a deadly poison gas attack was
launched this week.
In the coming days it "will be interesting to watch to see
if (Syria) does grab more attention from the White House and
delay some of these other issues and programs they are trying to
get passed through here," said Sean Lynch, co-head of global
equity strategy at Wells Fargo Investment Institute in Omaha,
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
1.11-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.03-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and two new lows.
The Nasdaq Composite recorded 53 new highs and 46 new lows.
About 5.97 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges on
Friday compared with the 6.75 billion average for the last 20
(Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos, Chuck Mikolajczak and
Herbert Lash in New York, Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru;
Editing by James Dalgleish and Richard Chang)