US stocks start little changed after April jobs report

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are little changed Friday morning following a slightly disappointing jobs report for the month of April. The Labor Department said employers added 164,000 jobs for the month, fewer than experts expected. Trade talks between the U.S. and China ended without a deal and the Trump administration asked China to reduce its trade deficit with the U.S. by a larger amount. Corporate earnings gave stocks a boost, and Apple rose after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he bought more of its stock.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index dipped 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,628 at 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 2 points to 23,931. The Nasdaq composite added 7 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,095. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was unchanged at 1,545. Most of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange declined. Health care companies took some of the worst losses.

JOBS: U.S. employers stepped up hiring modestly in April and the weaker hiring estimate from March was revised higher. That’s evident the economy remains resilient even though some businesses are concerned about a possible trade war. While many employers say it’s difficult to find qualified workers, they have yet to significantly boost pay in most industries. Average hourly earnings rose 2.6 percent from a year ago, which was also roughly equal to analyst estimates.

TRADE TALKS: The Trump administration asked China to reduce its trade deficit with the U.S. by $200 billion by the end of 2020, striking an assertive stance in talks aimed at averting a trade war between the world’s largest economies. It also wants China to immediately stop providing subsidies to certain industries listed in a key industrial plan and end some of its policies related to technology transfers, a key source of tension underlying the dispute. While the trade tensions have rattled investors, many market watchers think the two sides will eventually come to a deal that doesn’t disrupt trade much.

UNDERPOWERED: Engineering and construction company Fluor plunged after it slashed its profit forecast because a gas-fired power project suffered “continued challenges.” The company took an unexpected loss in the first quarter and now expects a profit of $2.10 to $2.50 per share for the year, down from $3.10 to $3.50 per share. The stock dropped 19 percent to $47.79.

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