Choppy Trading Persists Following Monthly Jobs Report

Stocks are turning in a relatively lackluster performance in morning trading on Friday, extending the trend seen over the past several sessions. The choppy trading comes as traders digest the closely watched monthly jobs report.

Currently, the major averages are on opposite sides of the unchanged line. While the S&P 500 is up 2.07 points or 0.1 percent at 2,391.59, the Dow is down 26.18 points or 0.1 percent at 20,925.29 and the S&P 500 is down 1.00 point or less than a tenth of a percent at 6,074.33.

Before the start of trading, the Labor Department released a report showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of April.

The report said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 211,000 jobs in April after climbing by a downwardly revised 79,000 jobs in March. Economists had expected employment to increase by 185,000 jobs.

With the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate edged down to 4.4 percent in April from 4.5 percent in March. The unemployment rate had been expected to tick up to 4.6 percent.

The unexpected decrease pulled the unemployment rate down to its lowest level since a matching rate in May of 2007.

The report also said the annual rate of growth in average hourly employee earnings slowed to 2.5 percent in April from 2.6 percent in March.

While the bigger than expected increase in employment paints a positive picture for the economy, the data has reinforced expectations of another interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve next month.

Traders may be reluctant to make significant moves as they look ahead to this weekend’s presidential runoff in France.

After falling sharply in the previous session, energy stocks are regaining some ground along with the price of crude oil. Crude for June delivery is climbing $0.63 to $46.15 a barrel after plunging $2.30 to $45.52 a barrel on Thursday.

Reflecting the strength in the energy sector, the NYSE Arca Natural Gas Index and the Philadelphia Oil Service Index are jumping by 2.8 percent and 2.5…

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