US STOCKS-Wall St jogs in place on caution after record, Ukraine
* U.S. job growth an upbeat sign for weather-beaten economy
* Putin rebuffs Obama as Ukraine crisis escalates
* Dow up 0.2 pct; S&P 500 flat; Nasdaq down 0.5 pct
By Angela Moon
NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks trimmed earlier gains on Friday's jobs data to trade little changed by midday as investors turned cautious before the weekend, with the S&P 500 near record highs and a simmering crisis in Ukraine.
The S&P 500 climbed to an intraday record high shortly after the opening bell, lifted by the government's report showing that U.S. employers added 175,000 jobs to their payrolls in February. The consensus forecast was for a gain of 149,000 jobs, according to economists polled by Reuters. The unemployment rate, however, edged up to 6.7 percent in February from a five-year low of 6.6 percent in January.
"It seems that the decent February employment report, although a step in the right direction, has resolved little," said Andrew Wilkinson, chief market analyst at Interactive Brokers LLC in Greenwich, Connecticut.
"Stocks are suffering from some inevitable ebbing following the latest strong flow. That, in turn, has prompted further defensive demand for the protection afforded by options."
The CBOE Volatility Index or the VIX, Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 1.6 percent to 13.98. But VIX futures for April traded at 15.75, while VIX May futures were at 16.45. Continuación...