Saturday, May 25, 2024

Dow jumps 387 points following surprisingly strong US jobs report

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Stocks rose on Wall Street Friday and Treasury yields climbed following a hot US jobs report.

The S&P 500 rose 1.3%, trimming some of its losses for the week and moving closer to its record high. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 387 points, or 1% as of 12:10 p.m. Eastern. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.5%.

Technology companies led that march higher. Chipmaking giant Nvidia rose 2.8% and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, rose 1.8%. The gains were broad, with ever sector in the benchmark S&P 500 rising, though the index is still on track for a weekly loss.

The gains follow a late-day slump on Thursday for major indexes after a Federal Reserve official unsettled investors by questioning whether the central bank needs to cut rates at all amid a strong economy. A series of reports recently have shown that the U.S. economy remains resilient despite elevated inflation levels and high interest rates.

U.S. employers added a surprisingly strong 303,000 workers to their payrolls in March, according to a government report on Friday. The strong job market has helped fuel consumer spending and earnings growth for businesses, amounting to strong economic growth overall. But it complicates prospects for the Fed’s fight against inflation and hopes for lower borrowing costs.

Treasury yields climbed following the jobs report. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 4.37% from 4.31% just before the report was released. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations for the Fed, rose to 4.70% from 4.65% just prior to the report.The Fed’s benchmark interest rate remains at its highest level in two decades as a result of historic rate hikes meant to tame inflation. The strategy has seemingly worked so far, with overall consumer prices falling drastically from a peak in 2022. Inflation fell to a rate of 3.2% in February. It was as a high as 9.1% in the middle of 2022.Strong employment and consumer spending has raised concerns that inflation will be increasingly difficult to cool to the Fed’s target rate of 2%. It also raises the potential for inflation to reheat.

Wall Street is still mostly betting that the Fed will cut interest rates at its meeting in June, but the odds have slipped from a month ago, according to CME’s FedWatch tool. The Fed has also signaled three interest rate cuts this year and stronger economic data is raising worries about whether that number will shrink.

The market was mostly quiet elsewhere with the latest round of corporate earnings set to heat up in the next few weeks.

Johnson & Johnson was mostly unchanged after the pharmaceutical giant said it was buying the medical technology company Shockwave in a deal worth about $13 billion.

Apple rose 0.7% after announcing that it is laying off more than 600 workers in California, marking its first big wave of post-pandemic job cuts amid a broader wave of tech industry consolidation. The tech sector has been slashing workforces for two years, but the actions have had little impact on the broader employment market.

In energy markets, oil prices rose about 1% and are up just over 20% so far this year as demand remains robust.

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