Stocks: Investors pause after big rally

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    By CNNMoney staffMarch 4, 2011: 10:00 AM ET

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. markets opened flat Friday, following the previous session’s big rally, as investors worked through the government’s monthly jobs report.

    The Labor Department said the economy added 192,000 jobs in February — roughly in line with expectations, as the unemployment rate ticked down to 8.9%.

    The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) fell 10 points, or 0.1%; the S&P 500 (SPX) slid 2.4 points, or 0.2%; and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) shed 8.4 points, or 0.3%.

    U.S. stocks posted their best day in three months on Thursday, as Wall Street rallied behind a strong unemployment claims report along with a modest drop in energy prices.

    The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) rose 191 points, or 1.6%, to 12,258. The session’s gains were the best for the blue-chip indicator in 2011, and the largest since Dec. 1.

    Thursday’s strong rally will be a hard act to follow, said Lakshman Achuthan, managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute, and the post-rally hangover is partly responsible for the lackluster activity.

    Also, he said that the strong payroll report has diminished expectations for further government stimulus and that’s taking some of the wind out of the sails.

    “This is disappointing in that it suggest that there has been no acceleration of private sector job growth from the fourth quarter,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy for Brown Brothers Harriman, in a client note

    Oil prices hit a high over $103.30 a barrel in early trading. And gas prices continued to rise, adding 4.4 cents to a national average of $3.3471 a gallon.

    Economy: February’s jobs report was roughly in line with what Wall Street economists were looking for. Twenty-five economists surveyed by CNNMoney were predicting that the economy would have added 190,000 jobs in February, while the unemployment rate was expected to rise to 9.2%.

    A report on factory orders is due after the opening bell.

    Companies: Family Dollar (FDO, Fortune 500) rose about 4% over reports that it rejected a takeover offer from investor Nelson Peltz.

    World markets: European stocks were higher in morning trading. Britain’s FTSE 100 ticked up 0.5%, the DAX in Germany rose 0.7% and France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.2%.

    Asian markets ended the session sharply higher. The Shanghai Composite rallied 1.35%, the Hang Seng in Hong Kong jumped 1.2% and Japan’s Nikkei gained 1%.

    Currencies and commodities: The dollar rose against the euro and the Japanese yen but was flat against the British pound.

    Gold futures for April delivery rose $8.80 to $1,424 an ounce.

    Bonds: The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, pushing the yield up to 3.55% from 3.52% late Thursday.  To top of page

    First Published: March 4, 2011: 9:49 AM ET

    Originally posted here:
    Stocks: Investors pause after big rally