Wall Street Shrugs at Strong Job Report

NEW YORK (AP) -- Wall Street pointed lower ahead of the opening bell Friday after the U.S. government's monthly jobs report highlighted a healthy job market despite concerns that the economy would weaken as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to fight inflation.

Futures for the Dow industrials slipped 0.6% while futures for the S&P 500 fell 0.8%.

Major U.S. benchmarks are up slightly this week heading into Friday's open, aiming for a second straight week of gains after a seven-week losing streak.

U.S. employers added a healthy 390,000 jobs in May, well ahead of economists' forecast of 325,000 but short of the 400,000-plus level that the economy has produced each the past 12 months. The unemployment rate was unchanged at a low 3.6%, the Labor Department said Friday.

That robust environment has developed despite inflation hovering near a four-decade high and worries about higher borrowing rates and a potential recession. Yet employers remain generally optimistic. Consumers have kept up their spending despite their intensifying concerns about higher prices.

Trading has been choppy in recent days as investors remain worried about inflation and the interest rate increases the U.S. Federal Reserve is using to fight it. Wall Street is concerned that Fed interest rate hikes could slow economic growth too much and potentially send the economy into a recession.

Meanwhile high inflation is eating into corporate profits, while the war in Ukraine and COVID-19 restrictions in China have also weighed on markets.

European shares teetered between gains and losses at midday, with France's CAC 40 and Germany's DAX both adding less than 0.1%. Trading was closed in Britain for a national holiday.

Markets were also closed in China for the Dragon Boat Festival, a national holiday. Benchmarks in the rest of Asia edged higher, cheered by a rally overnight on Wall Street.

Japan and the U.S. signed a revision on the "beef safeguard" mechanism under the U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement, which will help American beef producers meet Japan's growing demand for high-quality beef. The deal will reduce the chances Japan's safeguard duties would be imposed on U.S. beef, both sides said. That happened in early 2021.

"Together, the United States and Japan are demonstrating our commitment to working together on shared priorities to achieve concrete, economically meaningful results for our people," said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 jumped 1.3% to finish at 27,761.57. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.9% to 7,238.80, while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4% to 2,670.65.

Bond yields were relatively stable. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which helps set interest rates on mortgages and other loans, was back up to 2.93% after a slight dip.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 54 cents to $117.41 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 61 cents to $118.22 a barrel.

An OPEC meeting Thursday where oil-producing nations decided to boost some output failed to steady energy prices significantly.

"To say the OPEC meeting outcome disappointed expectations would be an understatement," said Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar edged up to 130.17 Japanese yen from 129.87 yen. The euro cost $1.0737, down from $1.0752.