* October job numbers rise by 261,000 vs est. 310,000
* Unemployment rate falls to 4.1 pct from 4.2 pct
* Apple’s iPhone X goes on sale worldwide
* Dow down 0.02 pct, S&P off 0.06 pct, Nasdaq 0.09 pct (Updates to open)
By Sruthi Shankar
Nov 3 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were flat in early trading on Friday after October payrolls data triggered concerns about weak wage growth and drop in labor force participation.
However, a 3 percent surge in Apple’s shares provided support after the company’s blowout quarterly results and reports of strong initial demand for its new iPhone X.
Apple’s gains helped Dow open at a record level. The stock opened at $174, briefly breaching the $900 billion market capitalization mark.
The Labor Department’s closely watched employment report showed U.S. job growth accelerated in October after hurricane-related disruptions in the prior month.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 261,000 jobs last month but was below economists’ expectations for a rise of 310,000.
“Employment growth is indeed slowing ... This is basically healthy but certainly we’re moving toward the end of the cycle,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial.
Unemployment rate fell to near a 17-year low of 4.1 percent, but that was because 765,000 people dropped out of the labor force.
Average hourly earnings slipped by one cent, leaving them unchanged in percentage terms. That lowered the year-on-year increase to 2.4 percent, the smallest since February 2016.
“(Wage growth) is worrying. There’s not a lot of good news there. Lower paid workers going back to work after the hurricane would drag it down but you’d expect to see some small wage growth, not flat,” said McMillan.
The data, however, did little to move the case for an interest rate increase by the Federal Reserve in December.
At 9:40 a.m. ET (1340 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 4.2 points, or 0.02 percent, at 23,512.06, the S&P 500 was down 1.47 points, or 0.06 percent, at 2,578.38.
The Nasdaq Composite was up 6.15 points, or 0.09 percent, at 6,721.09.
Five of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, led by losses in financial index.
It has been a busy week for market, with President Donald Trump on Thursday tapping Fed Governor Jerome Powell to become head of the U.S. central bank and House Republicans disclosing their long-delayed plans for tax cuts.
AIG fell 4.69 percent after the insurer posted a bigger loss on huge catastrophe losses and said it set aside more in reserves.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,480 to 1,079. On the Nasdaq, 1,320 issues fell and 971 advanced. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)