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Stocks fall as jobs report doesn't clarify Fed view

U.S. stocks fell, positioning equities for a weekly drop, as the jobs report failed to cement thinking on whether the Federal Reserve would hike rates next month and as biotechnology shares were hit for a second day.

The monthly payrolls report did "nothing to change that great debate on whether the Fed will raise rates" next month or hold off until the final month of the year, Tim Hopper, chief economist at TIAA-CREE, said. "The market is split 50-50 on whether this is going to take place in September or December."

Benchmark indices opened in the red after Labor Department data had the U.S. economy adding 215,000 jobs in July, and the unemployment rate holding at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.

At 12:40 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was off 122 points, or 0.7 percent, at 17,300, with DuPont (DD) leading declines that included 29 of 30 components.

The S&P 500 (SPX) shed 13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 2,071, with the energy sector hardest hit and utilities the sole laggard of 10 industry groups.

The Nasdaq Composite (comp) declined 37 points, or 0.7 percent, to 5,020.

Biogen (BIIB) slid 3 percent after after physicians wrote of concerns about the drug developer's multiple sclerosis treatment in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While the jobs report showed a rise in hours worked, average hourly earnings rose 2.1 percent on the year, illustrating lackluster growth.

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