NEW YORK -- U.S. markets steadied on Friday a day after a major sell-off. Investors focused on a relatively strong jobs report, which showed the U.S. economy created 209,000 jobs in July, the sixth straight month of job growth above 200,000. Several large companies reported solid earnings including consumer products giant Procter & Gamble.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average lost six points, or 0.1 percent, to 16,554 as of 10:40 a.m. Eastern. The blue-chip index lost 317 points the day before. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,933 and the Nasdaq composite fell a fraction of a point to 4,369.
In Europe, Germany's DAX fell 1.4 percent, France's CAC 40 fell 0.3 percent, and the FTSE 100 index fell 0.5 percent.
THE DAY AFTER: Investors were dealing with the aftermath of the worst day in months for financial markets. Factors include weak corporate earnings from big companies such as Exxon Mobil as well as the approaching end of stimulus from the Federal Reserve. Economic sanctions on Russia that have increased tensions with the West also played a role, as did Argentina's debt default Wednesday. And there's also the general worry by investors that stocks are overpriced.
JOBS: The monthly U.S. jobs survey gave investors some relief. It showed that more people were looking for work and that employers added jobs to their payrolls, but not at such a fast pace to suggest that wages will start rising soon. That might prompt the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates to curb inflation.
"In a nutshell, it's a good report," said Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at brokerage firm BTIG in New York. "Not too hot, not too cold."
SAFETY IS KEY: Investors moved money into traditional safe havens: stocks that pay large dividends, bonds and gold. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.54 percent from 2.55 percent. Gold rose $13.50, or 1 percent, to $1,296.50 an ounce. Utility stocks, which investors favor during uncertain times because of their stable business models and high dividends, also rose. The Dow Jones utility index, which includes 15 utility companies, rose 1 percent in early trading.
EARNINGS: Proctor & Gamble rose $2.86, or 4 percent, to $80.22. The consumer products giant said it earned an adjusted profit of 95 cents a share, four cents better what analysts had expected. LinkedIn, the business social networking site, rose $19.65, or 11 percent, to $200.13 after its own results beat analysts' expectations.
LOW ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude for September delivery slipped 76 cents to $97.43 a barrel in electronic trading in New York. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 77 cents to $105.26 in London.
Carlo Piovano reported from London. Matt Craft contributed from New York and Kelvin Chan contributed from Hong Kong.