Stocks on Wall Street were trading slightly lower on Friday - albeit off their lows of the session - despite a solid reading on the state of the jobs market, as a large drop in crude oil futures
and losses overnight in Japanese stocks dampened sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrials was off by 21.40 points or 0.12% to 17,633.04 as of 15:09BST, alongside a drop of 5.47 points or 0.27% in the S&P 500
to 2,054.24 and a similar 0.10% fall in the Nasdaq Composite to 4,865.54.
US Non-farm payrolls edged past analysts´ forecasts, rising by 215,000 in March (consensus: 205,000), while average hourly wages grew by 0.3% month-on-month (consensus: 0.2%) and and 2.3% year-on-year (consensus: 2.2%).
Significantly, the labour force participation continued to rise, increasing by one tenth of a percentage point to 63.0%.
"While robust domestic data will be hard to ignore, we suspect that the Fed will wait for more optimal financial conditions before choosing to signal its next move," market strategist Bill Hubard said in a research note sent to clients.
Analysts at Capital Economics chimed in, saying: "The 215,000 gain in non-farm payroll employment in March highlights once again that, even though GDP growth has been underwhelming over the past six months, the labour market remains unusually strong."
In other economic news, the ISM manufacturing sector purchasing managers index for March improved from a reading of 49.5 to 51.8 (consensus: 50.8).
The University of Michigan´s consumer confidence index also beat market forecasts, rising from a reading of 90.0 for February to 91.0 in March (consensus: 90.5).
Japan´s Nikkei-225 equity benchmark was dragged lower overnight after a survey showed business sentiment among Japan's big manufacturers fell to the lowest in nearly three years in the first quarter.
The headline index gauging big manufacturers' sentiment stood at +6 in March, half the level seen three months ago and worse than a median market forecast of +8, the Bank of Japan´s Tankan survey revealed.
Investors seemed to shrug off positive Chinese data on manufacturing and services.
China's official manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 50.2 in March from 49.0 the previous month, beating expectations for a reading of 49.3. A reading above 50 signals an expansion while a level above that indicates a contraction.
The non-manufacturing PMI also edged higher in March to 53.8 from 52.7 a month earlier.
Caixin's private PMI on China manufacturing increased to 49.7 in March from 48 in February, exceeding forecasts of 48.3.
Meanwhile, oil prices
registered a sharp slide on concerns about a supply glut. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 4.2% to $38.71 per barrel and Brent crude declined 4.1% to $36.84 per barrel.
On the corporate front, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Marriott International were in focus as China's Anbang Insurance Group Co. backed away from its $14bn bid for the former.
Tesla Motors could move after unveiling its more affordable Model 3 electric car late Thursday.
Data on US vehicle sales for the month of March and the latest weekly tally of US oil rigs from Baker Hughes were scheduled for release later in the day.
The yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note was flat at 1.77%.