US STOCKS-Wall Street slips after disappointing jobs report

Last Updated: Fri, Aug 02, 2013 16:10 hrs

* U.S. unemployment rate falls, but payrolls disappoint

* LinkedIn, AIG shares rise after results

* Dell committee and buyout group announce agreement, shares up

* Indexes down: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct

By Alison Griswold

NEW YORK, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Stocks on Wall Street edged lower on Friday after data showed U.S. hiring slowed in July but the jobless rate fell, mixed signals that could make the Federal Reserve more cautious about scaling back its massive economic stimulus.

The Dow and the S&P 500 pulled back from the record closing highs they hit on Thursday after the key jobs report showed non-farm payrolls rose by 162,000 in July, below expectations, but the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent, its lowest reading since December 2008.

Coming off a string of better-than-expected data and optimism about strong growth in the second half of the year, analysts described the tepid jobs report as a reality check.

"Stock investors are scared of both the tapering and a potentially slowing economy," said Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist at Rosenblatt Securities in New York. "They're not sure what they're scared of, but they know they're scared. And very few people want to buy stocks at an all-time high."

The Fed's support has been a pillar of the recovery from the deepest recession since the Great Depression. The central bank has reiterated that it will continue to stimulate the economy until it is capable of standing on its own, reassurances that helped the S&P 500 post its strongest day in three weeks on Thursday and close above the 1,700 level for the first.

Five of the 10 S&P 500 industry sectors moved lower on Friday, led by losses of more than 1 percent in the energy index .

Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 after posting a steeper-than-expected 26 percent drop in quarterly profit. Shares of the company fell 2.3 percent to $123.59.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 27.74 points, or 0.18 percent, to 15,600.28. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dropped 2.51 points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,704.36. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 1.85 points, or 0.05 percent, to 3,673.89.

Time Warner Cable fell 2.3 percent to $114.97 after Bloomberg reported that Cox Communications Inc has held talks about merging with cable provider and rival Charter Communications Inc. Charter added 4.4 percent to $133.59.

Dell's special committee and a group led by founder and chief executive Michael Dell announced a deal that dramatically increases the chances of his $24.6 billion buyout going through. Dell shares gained 5.3 percent to $13.64.

LinkedIn shares jumped 11.5 percent to $237.15 and several brokerages raised their price targets on the stock after results on Thursday topped expectations.

AIG Inc also beat expectations on Thursday and announced its first capital return since its 2008 bailout through a dividend and share buyback, sending its shares up 2 percent to $48.02.

Of the 391 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings for the second quarter, 67.8 percent have topped analyst expectations, in line with the average beat over the past four quarters, data from Thomson Reuters showed. About 55 percent have reported revenue above estimates, more than in the past four quarters but below the historical average.

Consumer spending increased in June and inflation pushed higher, while new orders for U.S. factory goods rose for the third straight month in June.

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