Stock Market Drops After U.S. Adds Just 20,000 Jobs -- Smallest Increase in 17 Months

Weak economic data stoked fears of sputtering economic growth.

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The U.S. economy added only 20,000 jobs last month, far below expectations of 180,000. That's the worst monthly showing since Sept. 2017 and compared to the 311,000 jobs added in January and the 227,000 in December, it's downright alarming.

Economists, however, were not particularly alarmed. Many suggested that the government shutdown, bad weather that limited construction activity, and a natural pullback from a very strong January report make the February job numbers an anomaly.

Investors were initially concerned but stocks pared their losses with a late rally. The Dow index fell 0.09 percent today and posted its worst weekly performance of the year. The Nasdaq Composite was down 0.18 percent and registered its first weekly decline this year. The Entrepreneur Index™ closed the day down 0.07 percent.

On a day when most of the market was falling, Costco Wholesale Corp. delivered stellar earnings results and saw its stock jump 5.09 percent -- the biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ today. Only two other stocks on the index had gains of more than one percent on the day.

 

Costco produced the goods. The membership retailer beat earnings estimates by nearly 20 percent. Operating margins were good and so were same-store sales despite a 25 percent increase in ecommerce sales. Overall revenues missed estimates very slightly, but were still up more than seven percent for the quarter. The stock is now up 11.84 percent so far this year, topping the 9.42 percent return on the S&P 500 index.

Tesla had the second biggest gain on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, rising 2.66 percent. A favorable report from Citron Research -- a former short-seller of the stock -- may have helped. The investment manager said it expected the stock to rebound to $320, a thirteen percent jump from current levels. It suggested that the successful reentry of a space capsule by Elon Musk's SpaceX venture today was one more example of the erratic CEO's genius. Tesla shares are down 14.6 percent this year.

Chipotle Mexican Grill was the third stock on the index to rise by more than one percent, gaining 1.13 percent.

Retailers Bed Bath & Beyond (-3.11 percent) and Gap Inc. (-2.96 percent) had the two biggest declines on the Entrepreneur Index™ today, but prices were weak across most sectors of the market. Technology stocks finished a tough week on a bad note. Most of the thirteen tech stocks on the Entrepreneur were down with Cognizant Technology (-1.63 percent) and Netflix (-0.85 percent) posting the biggest losses.

Drug-maker Regeneron Pharmaceuticals continued to fall. The stock fell 1.69 percent today and was down nine percent for the week. Oil and gas producer Hess Corp. was off 2.84 percent as the price of crude oil fell 1.01 percent on the day.

Other notable declines on the Entrepreneur Index™ included Tyson Foods (-2.07 percent), Intercontinental Exchange (-1.56 percent) and L Brands (-1.52 percent).

The Entrepreneur Index™ collects the top 60 publicly traded companies founded and run by entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurial spirit is a valuable asset for any business, and this index recognizes its importance, no matter how much a company has grown. These inspirational businesses can be tracked in real time on Entrepreneur.com.

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