U.S. stocks ended nearly flat after a choppy trading session on Friday, as investors tried to digest a tepid U.S. jobs report and weighed the possibility of an imminent U.S.-led military action in Syria.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 14.98 points, or 0.10 percent, to 14,922.50 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.09 point, or 0. 01 percent, to 1,655.17 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.23 points, or 0.03 percent, to 3,660.01 points.
For the week, the Dow inched up 0.8 percent, and the S&P advanced 1.4 percent while the Nasdaq rose 2.0 percent.
The market opened higher but then experienced a seesaw trading session,triggered by growing jitters over Syria.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia will help Syria in the case of an external military attack during a press conference of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg.
Also on Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama told the press that countries must set aside differences to find a solution for Syria and that he is "not itching for military action." Obama is expected to address the American people Tuesday on Syria.
On the economic front, the U.S. Labor Department said that the country's employers added 169,000 jobs in August, fewer than market expectations of 180,000 jobs.
Meanwhile, unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent in August, the lowest level since December 2008. The labor force participation rate fell to 63.2 percent, its lowest since August 1978, said the department.
"The unemployment rate is falling at a dead-steady rate but not for the reasons the Fed had hoped ... There is a tendency (for Fed) to fall back on the unemployment rate as the best gauge of labor market health," FTN Financial Chief Economist Christopher Low said on Friday.
The lackluster jobs report raised questions about whether the Federal Reserve should dial back its monetary stimulus soon.
Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said Friday that the U.S. central bank can scale back its quantitative easing later this year if the economic conditions continue to improve.
The market began to shift its focus to the Fed's upcoming policy meeting scheduled for Sept. 17-18.