Wall Street flat after payrolls, Fed in focus

Wall Street flat after payrolls, Fed in focus

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 07, 2012 14:40 hrs
Specialist trader Geoffrey Friedman of Barclays Capital works at his post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Friday as investors weighed the chances that a weaker-than-expected jobs report would spur the Federal Reserve to launch another round of economic stimulus.

The report came a day after the S&P closed at its highest level since May 2008 - before the collapse of Lehman Brothers - and the Nasdaq hit a 12-year high.

Nonfarm payrolls increased only 96,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. While the unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent in July, it was largely due to Americans giving up the search for work.

The weak figures potentially set the stage for the Fed, which meets next week, to pump additional money into the sluggish economy. The job numbers also dealt a blow to President Barack Obama as he seeks re-election in November.

"The real question is what does the Fed do with this report?" said Steve Blitz, chief economist at ITG Investment Research, adding that the report may not be enough for the Fed to introduce more stimulus.

"As for the drop in the labor force and labor participation rate, it is troubling for the Fed, no question, but some part of that number relates to the retirement of the baby boomers," he said.

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 3.95 points, or 0.03 percent, to 13,295.95. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 2.84 points, or 0.20 percent, to 1,434.96. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 3.07 points, or 0.10 percent, to 3,132.74.

Shares of Pandora Media Inc fell 18 percent to $10.34 following media reports that Apple Inc was in talks to license music for a radio service like the one Pandora operates.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that Apple wants to license music for a custom-radio service that would work on its hardware, such as the iPhone, iPads and Mac computers, in a bid to expand its dominance in online music. Apple's iTunes is the largest music retailer.

Intel Corp cut its third-quarter revenue estimate and withdrew its full-year forecast, saying demand for its chips declined as customers reduced inventory and businesses bought fewer personal computers. The revenue warning sent shares of the world's largest chipmaker down more than 3 percent to near $24.

(Editing by Dave Zimmerman)

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