Amazon jitters offset upbeat jobs data on Wall Street

(Reuters) – Wall Street was mixed on Friday, as optimism from a surge in January U.S. job growth was offset by a weaker-than-expected outlook from Inc that battered retail stocks.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 1, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The online retail heavyweight fell 5.3 percent after its quarterly sales forecast fell short of Wall Street estimates, overshadowing its record sales and profit during the holiday season.

Those results put the Nasdaq in negative territory, while retailers Walmart Inc and Kohl’s Corp dropped more than 2 percent and Macy’s Inc fell 1.7 percent. The S&P consumer discretionary index fell 1.8 percent.

A U.S. Labor Department report showed nonfarm payrolls jumped by 304,000 jobs last month, the largest gain since February 2018 and beating economists’ expectations for an increase of 165,000.

That report, along with better-than-expected ISM manufacturing activity numbers for January, pointed to underlying strength in the economy despite an uncertain outlook that has left the Federal Reserve wary about more interest rate hikes this year.

“What the unemployment report is telling you is that people want to go back to work,” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at GlobAlt Investments in Atlanta. “The consumer needs to be strong, and if the consumer is employed, the consumer will stay strong.”

Even as the United States remains on a steady footing, investors are concerned that a slowdown overseas could hurt profit growth, with high-profile companies such as Apple Inc warning of slowing demand in China.

Data showed China’s manufacturing sector shrank for the second straight month in January, heightening risks for global growth amid a trade war with United States.

At 2:14 p.m. ET (1914 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.15 percent at 25,037.53 points, while the S&P 500 had lost 0.06 percent to 2,702.38.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.35 percent to 7,255.92.

Exxon Mobil Corp and Chevron Corp jumped more than 3 percent after the oil majors reported better-than-expected quarterly profits, boosting the Dow Jones industrial index.

The S&P energy index rallied 1.78 percent, also helped by higher oil prices.

Cigna Corp fell 2.4 percent after the health insurer forecast 2019 revenue and earnings below estimates.

The S&P real estate index dropped 1.3 percent.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.22-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.30-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 48 new highs and 15 new lows.

Additional reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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