NEW YORK — The stock market ended lower Friday as a surprisingly strong report on job gains failed to impress investors.
Stocks rose in the early going after the government reported that U.S. employers hired at the fastest pace in two years last month. The Standard and Poor’s 500 index briefly rose above its record closing high.
The market started to slump in late morning trading on news of fighting in eastern Ukraine, where government forces attacked pro-Russian insurgents. All three major U.S. stock indexes wavered between gains and losses.
Among the biggest losers was LinkedIn. The online professional networking service fell 8 percent after reporting its largest quarterly loss since going public. Expedia, the online travel site, fell nearly 4 percent, and Pfizer fell 1.3 percent after the drug company’s latest offer to buy AstraZeneca was rejected by its board.
In the jobs report, the government said employers added 288,000 jobs in April, 70,000 more than expected, and the unemployment rate for April dropped to 6.3 percent, the lowest since September 2008.
A few details of the report were less encouraging. The drop in the unemployment rate probably reflected the long-term jobless who had been out of work for six months or more before finally giving up looking for work. People aren’t counted as unemployed unless they’re looking for a job.
“Long-term unemployment is higher than expected, but overall [the report] is positive,” said Brad Sorensen, director of market and sector research at Charles Schwab. “There isn’t a ton of enthusiasm in the market.”
Among the stocks taking big hits Friday was Madison Square Garden, which fell 6.6 percent, to $51.47. The owner of sports teams and entertainment venues such as Radio City Music Hall said its earnings fell by half in its fiscal third quarter, partly because of a management change and a costly delay for a Rockettes production.
Among the gainers was Wynn Resorts, which rose 7 percent, to $221.68 after reporting that its first-quarter net income grew 12 percent. The company cited strong gambling revenue from its growing operations in Macau, China.
On Friday, the S&P 500 fell 2.54 points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,881.14. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 45.98 points, or 0.3 percent, to 16,512.89. The Nasdaq composite dropped 3.55 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,123.90.
Investors sought safety in U.S. Treasurys, pushing bond prices higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.58 percent, near its lowest level of the year.
The price of crude oil rose 34 cents to $99.76 per barrel.