Out of the gate, U.S. stocks fell sharply as investors speculated the impact of a robust employment report could lead the Federal Reserve Board to raise interest rates. Minutes after the bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.5 percent to 18,047.16. In Europe, trading prices were varied.
On Thursday, the major indices closed the day with steady gains on key earnings reports from U.S. companies as well as an employment report that was expected to deliver 235,000 jobs. However, the employment numbers clocked 295,000 jobs for February while the unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent to 5.7 percent in January. Investors are concerned that the better-than-expected payroll numbers would lead to an interest rate hike sooner than anticipated.
In other economic news, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the goods and services deficit fell to $41.8 billion in January, which is down $3.8 billion from $45.6 billion in December. The report also noted that January exports shed $5.6 billion to $189.4 billion while imports declined $9.4 billion to $231.2 billion.