US STOCKS-Wall St falls as strong jobs data may bring rate hike sooner
* Feb U.S. payrolls growth tops expectations
* Apple to replace AT&T in Dow industrials
* Indexes off: Dow 1.17 percent, S&P 1.1 percent, Nasdaq 0.88 percent (Updates to afternoon trading, adds comments)
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, March 6 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks retreated on Friday, with the S&P 500 index poised for its second straight weekly drop, after a strong monthly jobs report fueled expectations for an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose 295,000 last month, topping estimates for a gain of 240,000, after a downwardly revised 239,000 increase in January. The unemployment rate fell to 5.5 percent from 5.7 percent in January.
Many investors had held off making big bets ahead of the jobs report, which is seen as a good gauge for timing the Fed's first rate hike in years, and February's step up in hiring could put pressure on the Fed to raise rates as soon as June.
"There's speculation we're going to see an increase in rates earlier than anticipated," Jim Herrick, director of equity trading at R.W. Baird in Milwaukee, adding that selling had accelerated for technical reasons.
At 2:16 PM (1916 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 226.21 points, or 1.25 percent, to 17,909.51, the S&P 500 had lost 23.35 points, or 1.11 percent, to 2,077.69 and the Nasdaq Composite was off 42.82 points, or 0.86 percent, to 4,939.99. Continuación...