* Feb nonfarm payrolls increase 242,000
* HP Enterprise up after strong results
* Indexes down: Dow 0.14 pct, S&P 0.18 pct, Nasdaq 0.28 pct (Updates to open)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
March 4 (Reuters) - Wall Street was lower on Friday morning after the data showed U.S. economy added more jobs than expected in February, easing concerns about a recession and suggesting there was room for the Federal Reserve to gradually raise interest rates this year.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 242,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. The unemployment rate held at an eight-year low of 4.9 percent even as more people piled into the labor market.
“I guess the only blemish is that wages number, and I am looking for some sign there is something seasonal going on here, which could always be the case,” said Paul Christopher, head market strategist for Wells Fargo Investment Institute in St. Louis.
At 9:46 a.m. ET (1446 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 24.52 points, or 0.14 percent, at 16,919.38, the S&P 500 was down 3.62 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,989.78 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 13.00 points, or 0.28 percent, at 4,694.42.
Seven of the 10 S&P sectors were lower, led by a 0.49 percent fall in the rate-sensitive utilities sector.
With corporate earnings winding down, investors will now focus on macro-economic data as they wait for the Fed’s next move. The central bank’s rate-setting committee is scheduled to meet on March 15-16.
Economists, however, believe the strong jobs market and improved growth outlook, together with signs that inflation is creeping up, could prompt the Fed to lift borrowing costs in June.
In a separate report, data showed trade deficit widened to $45.7 billion in January, below the $44 billion estimated, as a strong dollar and weak global demand helped push exports to a near six-year low.
Shares of Hewlett Packard Enterprise were up 13.2 percent at $15.40 after the company reported better-than-expected profit and revenue.
Carmike Cinemas was up 15.8 percent at $29.07 after AMC Entertainment said it would buy the theater chain for $1.1 billion, including debt. AMC was up 2.5 percent at $26.33.
Broadcom was up 4.4 percent at $143.31 after the chipmaker reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,334 to 1,279. On the Nasdaq, 1,171 issues fell and 1,096 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed 7 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 11 new highs and 9 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D‘Silva)