Wall Street falls on poor unemployment figures

US stocks fell yesterday after a weak reading on the labour market dropped stocks through a key technical level, validating the worries of those who thought the recent rally was flimsy.

Major indexes were little changed for most of the day before the S&P 500 broke below 1,130, the high end of the summer’s trading range. Investors had hoped that the level would hold despite low trading volume, which raised questions about the rally’s stamina.

Thursday’s volume was very light, with 7.21 billion shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange and the Nasdaq, far below last year’s estimated daily average of 9.65 billion shares.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 76.89 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 10,662.42. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index finished down 9.45 points, or 0.83 per cent, at 1,124.83. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 7.47 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 2,327.08.

Jobless claims unexpectedly rose in the latest week, a sign the labour market still faces headwinds.