Wall St subdued after September jobs miss

US stocks have edged higher in volatile trading after data showed jobs in the country rose far less than expected in September but not enough to throw the Federal Reserve off its presumed course of tapering asset purchases this year.

Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher in early trading.

The energy index was the top gainer, up 2.0 per cent, while shares of Amazon, Microsoft and Bank of America gave the biggest boost to the S&P 500.

The Labor Department's closely watched non-farm payrolls report showed hiring increased by 194,000 jobs last month, far less than the 500,000 jobs forecast by a Reuters poll of economists.

While the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 per cent from 5.2 per cent in August, average hourly earnings rose by a more than expected 0.6 per cent.

"This weak number doesn't push the Fed to need to taper any sooner. It might be December now versus November but it probably doesn't rock the boat too much and tapering likely still takes place later this year," said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist at LPL Financial.

While investors expect the Fed to stick to its tapering plans this year, the weak data did not spur changes to rate hike expectations either.

Futures on the federal funds rate has priced in a quarter-point tightening either by November or December next year.

The numbers follow better than expected private jobs data and weekly jobless claims report while a temporary reprieve from the US Senate agreeing to raise the federal government's $28.4 trillion debt limit set the three major US indexes for weekly gains.

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 24.85 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 34,779.79, the S&P 500 was up 4.64 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 4,404.40, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 2.64 points, or 0.02 per cent, at 14,651.38.

Conagra Brands Inc slipped as JP Morgan downgraded the stock to "neutral" from "overweight" a day after the diversified food maker flagged price increases to cushion inflation impact and raised sales forecast.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.37-to-1 ratio on the NYSE.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.10-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 10 new 52-week highs and three new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and 43 new lows.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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