* U.S. job growth an upbeat sign for weather-beaten economy
* Putin rebuffs Obama as Ukraine crisis escalates
* Dow up 0.1 pct; S&P 500 flat; Nasdaq off 0.4 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 7 U.S. stocks pulled back on
Friday, with the Nasdaq extending losses in late afternoon
trading as investors adjusted their positions ahead of the
weekend and caution prevailed because of the simmering crisis in
Both the Dow and the S&P 500 retreated from session highs.
The S&P 500 had climbed to an intraday record of 1,883.57
shortly after the opening bell, lifted by the Labor Department's
report showing that U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their
payrolls in February. Economists had expected a gain of 149,000
jobs, according to a Reuters poll.
But as the market digested the jobs report, some analysts
said the data has sparked the possibility that the U.S. Federal
Reserve would take more action at its policy meeting later this
month. The Fed, however, is expected to keep reducing its
monthly bond-buying program.
"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, reversed course from its decline in earlier trading.
The VIX was up 0.1 percent at 14.22 with less than an hour left
in the regular session.
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 Jones industrial average rose 23.25 points or
0.14 percent, to 16,445.14. The S&P 500 gained 0.21
points or 0.01 percent, to 1,877.24. The Nasdaq Composite
dropped 18.725 points or 0.43 percent, to 4,333.401.
The Nasdaq fell as low as 4,319.15 by late afternoon and
then recovered some of that loss in choppy trading.
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
After investors piled into gold, crude and grains on Monday
as tensions escalated over Crimea, they 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 $81.08
after the network security company priced a follow-on public
offering. The company sold 14 million shares of its common stock
at $82 per share.
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 2.4 percent to
Skullcandy Inc shares shot up 32.2 percent to $9.82
after the headphone maker posted fourth-quarter earnings and
provided an outlook for the first-quarter and full year.
Big Lots Inc shares surged 22.1 percent to $35.70
after the close-outs retailer reported a better-than-expected
adjusted profit for the holiday quarter.