Nasdaq Up 67.41; Dow Down 3.64
NEW YORK (AP) _ Stocks were mixed in early trading today as a stronger-than-expected government employment report hurt blue chips and more bargain-hunting lifted the technology sector.
In the first hour of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 3.64 at 11,110.63. The Nasdaq composite index was up 67.41 at 4,334.97.
Broader stock indicators were also higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 5.35 at 1,506.69.
The Labor Department reported today that the nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 4.1 percent in March, above the 4 percent that some economists had been expecting.
The government also reported that 416,000 jobs were added to business payrolls in March, the largest gain since February 1996. But government analysts said a number of special factors, including the hiring of Census workers, led to a big gain in job growth.
Average hourly earnings, a key gauge of inflation pressures, rose 0.4 percent to $13.60 in March, in line with analyst estimates.
Today’s job report raised expectations that the Federal Reserve would boost interest rates next month, the sixth time since last June that the Fed will have moved to slow the economy and keep inflation under control.
Earlier this week, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan again cautioned that the continuing tight labor market will force businesses to offer higher and higher wages to woo workers, which could cause inflation to accelerate.
While blue-chip shares were under pressure today, technology stocks had another strong session as investors bought shares of companies that saw their market valuations crushed in the steep selloff Monday and Tuesday.
Qualcomm rose 1 5/8 at 140 3/4, Intel gained 2 7/16 to 132 1/4 and America Online rose 1 1/16 to 66 1/16.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 10-to-9 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 127.65 million shares, behind Thursday’s early pace.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies rose 6.42 to 538.92.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 0.14 percent. In afternoon trading, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.19 percent, Britain’s FT-SE 100 was up 1.16 percent, and France’s CAC-40 was up 0.17 percent.
On the Net:
New York Stock Exchange: http://www.nyse.com
Nasdaq Stock Market: http://www.nasdaq.com