Stocks ended the first week of May on an up note, although the outcome was not a foregone conclusion. At the close on Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 80 points higher; the NASDAQ gained 19 points; and the S&P 500 was seven points to the good. Advancing issues topped decliners by a 9 to 5 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, but the spread was much narrower on the NASDAQ.
Concerns about slowing employment growth, which surfaced earlier this week, and increased following a disappointing issuance on private-sector job creation during the month of April on Wednesday, has intensified still further this morning after the U.S. Labor Department released its closely anticipated employment report within the hour.
Merck, (MRK) the New Jersey-based drugmaker and Dow-30 component, has reported first-quarter earnings of $0.40 a share, versus $0.33 in the comparable period of 2015. The year-over-year increase was driven by continued reductions in marketing, administrative, and research and development costs, which more than offset a low-single-digit pullback on the top line.