* 156,000 jobs added in December vs est. 178,000
* Unemployment rate rises to 4.7 pct; wages up 0.4 pct
* Amgen top stock on S&P, Regeneron top loser
* Indexes down: Dow 0.25 pct, S&P 0.19 pct, Nasdaq 0.07 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Jan 6 U.S. stocks edged lower on Friday after
data showed employment in December rose less than expected but a
rebound in wages suggested sustained growth in the labor market.
The public and private sectors together added 156,000 jobs
last month, a U.S. Labor Department report showed, compared with
204,000 jobs added in November.
Average hourly earnings increased 10 cents, or 0.4 percent,
after slipping 0.1 percent in November. That pushed the
year-on-year increase in average hourly earnings to 2.9 percent,
the largest increase since June 2009.
Unemployment rate ticked up to 4.7 percent.
The report adds to a recent spate of robust economic data
across sectors including manufacturing and automobiles. This,
coupled with President-elect Donald Trump's pledge for fiscal
stimulus, could prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest
rates faster than anticipated.
"Wage growth is firming up and if we get over 3.0 percent,
the Fed would feel a lot more comfortable to raise rates
further," said Craig Dismuke, chief economist at Vining Sparks
in Memphis, Tennessee.
The minutes of the Federal Reserve's December meeting
released on Wednesday showed that almost every Fed policymaker
agreed Trump's measures could call for a faster move on rates.
The central bank currently expects to raise rates thrice this
The dollar rose to session highs against major
currencies, while gold slipped.
At 9:38 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was
down 50.45 points, or 0.25 percent, at 19,848.84, the S&P 500
was down 4.31 points, or 0.19 percent, at 2,264.69 and
the Nasdaq Composite index was down 3.73 points, or 0.07
percent, at 5,484.21.
Nine of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with
telecom services losing the most by 2.11 percent.
Financials gained 0.1 percent, while healthcare
Wal-Mart fell 1.2 percent at $68.41 after the
company said Rosalind Brewer, chief executive officer of its
warehouse club stores Sam's Club, would retire from on Feb. 1.
Amgen gave the biggest boost to the S&P, rising 4.9
percent, after a U.S. district judge blocked Sanofi
and Regeneron from selling their cholesterol drug,
which Amgen said infringed its patents. Regeneron was off 5.3
percent and was the index's biggest percentage loser.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,645
to 919. On the Nasdaq, 1,279 issues fell and 964 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed five new 52-week highs and no new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 21 new highs and five new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by