By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) - The Dow Jones industrial average index dropped 666 points during trading on Friday.
The plunge represents the largest daily percentage drop for the index since June 2016 -- soon after voters in the United Kingdom decided to leave the European Union. The Dow ended the day at 25,520.96 points, a 2.54 percent decrease from the close of markets Thursday. In the past week, the Dow shed more than 1,000 points.
The Labor Department said Friday 200,000 jobs were added to the economy in January and the jobless rate held steady 4.1 percent, the lowest rate in nearly 20 years. Beyond low unemployment, average hourly wages grew 2.9 percent in the first month of the year compared to January 2017. The increase was the highest since the middle of 2009 right after the global financial crisis of 2008.
The data stoked fears inflation would rise due to higher wages and low unemployment.
The Nasdaq fell 145 points to 7,240.95 and the S&P 500 skidded 60 points to 2,762.13. About a 2 percent loss for each.
In the past year, the Dow had hit a long string of records. The index closed at an all-time high of 26,616.71 Jan. 26. The decline Friday represents the sixth-biggest drop in iits 120-year history and the biggest daily drop in points since the end of 2008 during the depths of the recession.
"Optimism has fled the stock markets," according to a note by analysts from the bank, Desjardins.
President Donald Trump has often trumpeted the surging Dow in the past year as one of his accomplishments. On Friday, Trump focused instead on the numbers released by the Labor Department, noting “2018 is off to great start!”