Sun, Dec 08, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Better-than-expected jobs data spur Wall Street gains


A surprisingly strong US jobs report on Friday put investors in a buying mood, driving stocks on Wall Street broadly higher and extending the market’s winning streak to a third day.

The rally pushed the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by more than 300 points and erased the S&P 500’s losses from earlier in the week, nudging the benchmark index to a second consecutive weekly gain.

Technology, financial and industrial stocks drove much of the gains. Utilities, a safe-play sector, was the only laggard. Bond yields rose.

The US Department of Labor said that employers added 266,000 positions, well above estimates of 184,000.

The report also showed unemployment falling to a 50-year low.

Separately, an index that measures how consumers feel about the economy showed an increase from last month.

The encouraging reports offer reassurance for investors who may have been worried that consumers might be pulling back on spending, US Bank Wealth Management senior investment strategist Rob Haworth said.

“Increasing jobs, people back to work, plus that jump in consumer confidence tells you that the consumer is still there and probably will still spend money,” Haworth said. “It’s a better than we expected set of data, and clearly the market is pricing that in.”

The S&P 500 on Friday rose 28.48 points, or 0.9 percent, to 3,145.91. The index posted a 0.2 percent gain for the week from 3,140.98 on Nov. 29, a solid pivot from losses of more than 1 percent as of late Thursday.

It is now within 0.3 percent of its all-time high set on Nov. 27 and up 25.5 percent this year.

The latest gains also helped stem some of the losses for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday climbed 337.27 points, or 1.2 percent, to 28,015.06, but shed 0.1 percent from 28,051.41 a week earlier.

The NASDAQ on Friday gained 85.83 points, or 1 percent, to 8,656.53, but fell 0.1 percent from a close of 8,665.47 on Nov. 29.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks on Friday picked up 19 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,633.84, a gain of 0.6 percent from 1,624.50 a week earlier.

The batch of encouraging economic data capped what started as a rough week for the market.

Increased trade tensions and disappointing economic reports — including data showing that US manufacturing continues to shrink and growth in the service sector is slowing — dragged the market to steep losses on Monday and Tuesday.

The latest data are a welcome development, as steady job growth has been one of the bright spots in the economy, along with solid consumer spending.

Investors also got some encouraging news on the US-China trade front, with Beijing on Friday saying that it is waiving punitive tariffs on US soybeans and pork as negotiations for a trade deal continue.

Financial markets were rattled this week when US President Donald Trump said that he would not mind waiting until after next year’s US elections for a trade deal.

Wall Street has been hoping enough progress can be made on a “phase one” trade agreement to avert new tariffs on Chinese goods, such as laptops and cellphones, set to become effective on Sunday next week. China has been seeking relief from some tariffs as part of the negotiations.

“You’re getting feel-good news going into the weekend,” Haworth said. “It doesn’t mean, to my mind, that all the concerns are off the table. One of the risks we’ll have in the coming week is you still haven’t gotten the phase-one deal.”

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