By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks inched lower on Friday as an upbeat jobs report was offset by disappointing corporate results and a decline in healthcare shares.
U.S. job growth picked up at its fastest pace in more than two years in April, suggesting a sharp rebound in economic activity early in the second quarter.
Yet on the results front, LinkedIn Corp shares dropped 6.9 percent to $150.06, a day after the social networking company forecast 2014 revenue below Wall Street's expectations, the latest company to disappoint on sales this reporting period. Expedia shares fell 4.9 percent to $70.26 also after reporting results.
Analysts said investors have had a tougher time picking the winners this year, with the S&P 500 up just 1.8 percent for the year so far, after its huge 30-percent rise in 2013.
"It's made a lot of difference how you're positioned in the market how you've done this year whereas last year it was kind of everything went up," said Ed Cowart, managing director and portfolio manager at Eagle Asset Management. "Generally, it was hard not to make money in the market last year, and this year it's been a little more difficult."
U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc's shares were down 1.4 percent at $30.70 after its sweetened 63 billion pound ($106 billion) bid for AstraZeneca Plc was promptly rejected by the British company Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 42.57 points or 0.26 percent, to 16,516.3, the S&P 500 lost 2.38 points or 0.13 percent, to 1,881.3 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.705 points or 0.04 percent, to 4,125.746.
So far in this earnings season, 75 percent of companies have beaten earnings expectations, above the long-term average, but just 51.3 percent have exceeded revenue expectations, below the long-term average, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Shares of Merck also lost ground. German drugmaker Bayer AG is nearing an agreement to buy Merck & Co Inc's consumer healthcare unit, people familiar with the matter said, in a deal that could value the business at around $14 billion. Merck shares were down 2.4 percent at $58.17.
Shares of Ares Management LP, the first U.S. private equity firm to go public in about two years, fell to a low of $18 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange after being priced at $19, well below the expected range of $21-23, in a turbulent IPO market. They were last trading at $18.36.
(Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)