U.S. stocks retreated Friday after two sessions' sharp gains, as investors were pondering over the December jobs report.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 170.50 points, or 0.95 percent, to 17,737.37. The S&P 500 lost 17.33 points, or 0.84 percent, to 2,044.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 32.12 points, or 0.68 percent, to 4,704.07.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 252,000 in December, and the unemployment rate declined by 0.2 percentage point to 5.6 percent, topping analysts' estimates, the U.S. Labor Department said Friday.
However, the jobs report showed a lack of acceleration in wage growth, as average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls decreased by five cents in December.
"2014 ends with a bang" as job growth in the fourth quarter averaged 289,000, said Chris Low, a chief economist at FTN Financial, in a note. "This report will keep the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) focused on 2015 tightening. The only questions are when will they opt for liftoff, and will the tenor of data change before we get there."
U.S. wholesales inventories went up 0.8 percent in November, beating market expectations of a 0.3-percent gain, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
For the week, U.S. equities ended mildly lower despite the 2- day big rally, with both the Dow and the Nasdaq decreasing 0.5 percent, while the S&P 500 falling 0.7 percent.
After the Dow registered its sixth straight annual gains, more volatility was expected in 2015 with the prospect of a rate hike from the Federal Reserve later this year.
On the previous day, U.S. stocks rose sharply for a second day, with benchmark indexes turning higher for the year.