* U.S. job growth an upbeat sign for weather-beaten economy
* Putin rebuffs Obama as Ukraine crisis escalates
* Dow up 0.2 pct; S&P 500 flat; Nasdaq down 0.5 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 7 U.S. stocks trimmed earlier
gains on Friday's jobs data to trade little changed by midday as
investors turned cautious before the weekend, with the S&P 500
near record highs and a simmering crisis in Ukraine.
The S&P 500 climbed to an intraday record high shortly after
the opening bell, lifted by the government's report showing that
U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls in February.
The consensus forecast was for a gain of 149,000 jobs, according
to economists polled by Reuters. The unemployment rate, however,
edged up to 6.7 percent in February from a five-year low of 6.6
percent in January.
"It seems that the decent February employment report,
although a step in the right direction, has resolved little,"
said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive
Brokers LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
"Stocks are suffering from some inevitable ebbing following
the latest strong flow. That, in turn, has prompted further
defensive demand for the protection afforded by options."
The CBOE Volatility Index or the VIX, Wall Street's
fear gauge, fell 1.6 percent to 13.98. But VIX futures for April
traded at 15.75, while VIX May futures were at
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 are on track for a second
straight week of gains, while the Nasdaq is poised for its fifth
straight weekly advance. The Dow is up 0.8 percent for the week,
while the S&P 500 is up 0.9 percent for the week.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 24.03 points or
0.15 percent, to 16,445.92. The S&P 500 dipped 0.87 of a
point or 0.05 percent, to 1,876.16. The Nasdaq Composite
dropped 23.343 points or 0.54 percent, to 4,328.782.
Geopolitical concerns increased when Russian President
Vladimir Putin rebuffed a warning from U.S. President Barack
Obama over Moscow's military intervention in Crimea, saying
Russia could not ignore calls for help from Russian speakers in
Investors, after initially piling into gold, crude and
grains on Monday as tensions escalated over Crimea last weekend,
have cautiously returned to stocks around the world. A gauge of
global equities traded near a six-year high,
while the S&P 500 closed on Thursday at a record.
Shares of FireEye Inc dropped 9.5 percent to $81.05
after the network security company priced the follow-on public
offering of 14 million shares of its common stock at $82 per
Safeway Inc, the second-largest U.S. mainstream
grocery store operator, said Thursday that private equity firm
Cerberus Capital Management would acquire the company in a deal
valued at about $9.4 billion. Safeway shares fell 3 percent to
Skullcandy Inc shares jumped 32.8 percent to $9.87
after the headphone maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and
provided an outlook for the first-quarter and full year.
Big Lots Inc shares surged 20.9 percent to $35.35
after the close-outs retailer reported a better-than-expected
adjusted profit for the holiday quarter.