Plus   Neg

Dow, S&P 500 Reach Record Closing Highs On Upbeat Jobs Data - U.S. Commentary


With traders reacting positively to the closely watched monthly jobs report, stocks moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. The upward move on the day lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 to new record closing highs.

The major averages ended the day firmly in positive territory. The Dow climbed 117.68 points or 0.5 percent to 24,329.16, the Nasdaq rose 27.24 points or 0.4 percent to 6,840.08 and the S&P 500 advanced 14.52 points or 0.6 percent to 2,651.50.

Despite the gains on the day, the major averages turned in a mixed performance for the week. While the Nasdaq edged down by 0.1 percent, the Dow and the S&P 500 both rose by 0.4 percent,

The continued advance by stocks came following the release of a report from the Labor Department showing stronger than expected job growth in the month of November.

The report said non-farm payroll employment jumped by 228,000 jobs in November after surging up by a revised 244,000 in October.

Economists had expected employment to climb by 200,000 jobs compared to the addition of 261,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate came in at 4.1 percent in November, unchanged from October and in line with economist estimates.

Meanwhile, average hourly employee earnings were up by 2.5 percent year-over-year in November, reflecting an acceleration from 2.4 percent in October but below estimates for 2.7 percent growth.

Positive sentiment was also generated by news that both the House and the Senate passed a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

The legislation extends government funding until December 22nd, giving lawmakers time to negotiate a longer-term spending bill.

On the other hand, the University of Michigan released a report showing an unexpected deterioration in consumer sentiment in the month of December.

The report said the preliminary reading on the consumer sentiment index for December fell to 96.8 from the final November reading of 98.5. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 99.0.

Sector News

Extending a recent move to the upside, software stocks saw notable strength on the day. The Dow Jones Software Index climbed by 1.3 percent, continuing to rebound after ending Monday's trading at its lowest closing level in over a month.

Industry giants Oracle (ORCL) and Microsoft (MSFT) turned in two of the software sector's best performances, rising by 2.2 percent 2 percent, respectively.

Significant strength was also visible among steel stocks, as reflected by the 1.3 percent gain posted by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. With the upward move, the index reached its best closing level in a month.

The strength among steel stocks may have been partly due to upbeat Chinese trade data generating optimism about the outlook for demand.

Computer hardware, biotechnology and oil service stocks also saw notable strength on the day, while tobacco stocks extended the pullback seen in the previous session.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved higher during trading on Friday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index surged up by 1.4 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 1.2 percent.

The major European markets also moved to the upside on the day. While the French CAC 40 Index rose by 0.3 percent, the German DAX Index advanced by 0.8 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index shot up by 1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries showed a lack of direction throughout the session before closing roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, inched up by less than a basis point to 2.383 percent.

Looking Ahead

The Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement is likely to be in the spotlight next week, with the central bank widely expected to raise interest rates by a quarter point when it announces its decision on Wednesday.

Traders are likely to keep a close eye on the accompanying statement as well as outgoing Fed Chair Janet Yellen's press conference for clues about the outlook for future rate hikes.

Economic reports on producer and consumer prices, retail sales, and industrial production may also attract some attention next week.

For comments and feedback contact: editorial@rttnews.com

Business News

Follow RTT