U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday, as investors mainly digested weaker-than-expected employment data.

U.S. total nonfarm payroll employment edged up by 98,000, well below market estimates of 180,000, and the unemployment rate declined to 4.5 percent in March, according to the Labor Department Friday.

“The payroll survey is downright weak, with not just fewer than 100k jobs added in March but a first quarter average of 178k, which is especially poor after the 148k average in the fourth quarter,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial, in a note.

In March, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 5 cents to 26.14 U.S. dollars, following a 7-cent increase in February.

Some analysts said the pullback in hiring could give the U.S. central bank reason to be more cautious on its next rate hike.

Meanwhile, investors turned to safe haven assets, after the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian airbase.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 20.73 points, or 0.10 percent, to 20,642.22. The S&P 500 lost 1.96 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,355.53. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 6.23 points, or 0.11 percent, to 5,872.72. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh