May 2, 2014 / 3:25 PM / in 4 years

US STOCKS-Wall St turns modestly lower as recent gains booked

* U.S. payrolls surge, jobless rate hits 5-1/2 year low

* Astrazeneca rejects Pfizer’s raised bid of $106 bln

* Indexes off: Dow 0.1 pct; S&P 0.1 pct; Nasdaq 0.2 pct (Updates to late morning session)

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK, May 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks gave up earlier gains on Friday, with major stock indexes turning modestly negative by late morning trading, as investors booked profits from advances earlier in the week.

Wall Street had earlier climbed following a payroll report that suggested a sharp rebound in economic activity early in the second quarter.

While the report provided an encouraging read on the labor market, many market participants said Wall Street’s gains over the week made further advances unlikely.

“The market has gotten to fairly full level in terms of valuation, and at this point, we need strong earnings to drive the market higher. Economic news is not enough for some at this point,” said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

So far in this earnings season, 75 percent, or 374 companies, in the S&P 500 have reported. Among those, 68.2 percent beat analysts’ earnings expectations, 9.9 percent met expectations and 21.9 percent were below estimates, according to data complied by Thomson Reuters.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 22.15 points, or 0.13 percent, to 16,536.72, the S&P 500 lost 1.31 points, or 0.07 percent, to 1,882.37 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 8.075 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,119.376.

Despite the day’s decline, all three indexes are still up more than 1 percent for the week.

U.S. job growth picked up at its fastest pace in more than two years in April and the unemployment rate dived to a 5-1/2 year low of 6.3 percent, the Labor Department said. The payrolls gain of 288,000 was the largest since January 2012 and beat Wall Street’s expectations for an increase of just 210,000.

The unemployment rate tumbled 0.4 percentage point, touching its lowest since September 2008. The Labor Department attributed the decline to a drop in the number of unemployed people reentering the labor market as well as a fall in new entrants into the labor force.

In company news, U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc ’s sweetened 63 billion pound ($106 billion) bid for AstraZeneca Plc was promptly rejected by the British company Friday. Pfizer shares were down 1.2 percent at $30.79.

LinkedIn Corp shares slipped 5.5 percent to $152.79, a day after the social networking company forecast 2014 revenue below Wall Street’s expectations, underscoring concerns about its ability to sustain its rapid growth.

Shares of Ares Management LP, the first U.S. private equity firm to go public in about two years, fell to a low of $18 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange after being priced at $19, well below the expected range of $21-23, in a turbulent IPO market. They were last trading at $18.36.

German drugmaker Bayer AG is nearing an agreement to buy Merck & Co Inc’s consumer healthcare unit, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could value the business at around $14 billion. Merck shares lost 1.8 percent to $58.45. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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