Wall Street’s main indexes have fallen for a fifth straight session and posted their biggest weekly declines since the market tumbled at the end of 2018, as a weak US jobs report ignited more concerns about the global economy.

But Friday’s declines were only slight. Stocks significantly pared losses late in the day as investors reassessed the employment report and considered whether the market’s recent slump was ending. The eventful session came as some Wall Street watchers prepared to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the start of the S&P 500’s bull market run that took root during the financial crisis.

US employment growth almost stalled in February, with the economy creating only 20,000 jobs, adding to signs of a sharp slowdown in economic activity in the first quarter. The payroll gains reported by the Labour Department were the weakest since September 2017. The weak US report added to economic fears also fanned by a sharp fall in China’s exports and after the European Central Bank slashed growth forecasts for the region on Thursday.

But stocks finished well above their lows for the session, as investors noted the jobs report was affected by seasonal effects and the federal government shutdown. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 22.99 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 25,450.24, the S&P 500 lost 5.86 points, or 0.21 pe cent, to 2,743.07 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.32 points, or 0.18 per cent, to 7,408.14. The Nasdaq snapped a 10-week streak of weekly gains. The closely watched Dow Jones Transportation Average fell 0.5 per cent, dropping for an 11th straight session, its longest streak of declines since 1972, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices.

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