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Stocks Climb as S&P 500, Dow Hit Records

By Anna Hirtenstein and Gunjan Banerji 

A lackluster monthly jobs report sparked a rebound in technology shares and other growth stocks Friday, setting up the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 for fresh records.

The Nasdaq Composite added 0.9%, outpacing its peers. The S&P 500 ticked up 0.7%, hitting a new closing high of 4232. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 228 points, or 0.7% to 34776, also its highest close ever.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell as low as 1.487%, according to Tradeweb, compared with roughly 1.570% just before the report was released and 1.561% Thursday. It recently climbed back to 1.576% -- at the lower end of its trading range for the past several weeks -- but enough of a comeback to break a five-session string of declines.

The monthly jobs report showed employers added 266,000 jobs in April and the unemployment rose to 6.1%. These figures significantly missed the expectations of economists who estimated that payrolls grew by one million and the unemployment rate fell to 5.8%. It sat at a record 14.8% in April 2020 in the midst of the early stages of the pandemic.

The jobs miss comes as many investors had ramped up bets that the economy was poised for a rapid upswing in coming months as businesses around the country reopen and many Americans have been vaccinated. The latest data dampened some of those optimistic projections, and led some analysts to re-evaluate their expectations on how quickly the Federal Reserve would move to raise rates in the future.

"We were very surprised," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer of Independent Advisor Alliance, adding that he thinks that the economy will continue to recover, but at a slower pace than expected.

Still, stocks are poised for a second week of muted gains, with sentiment bolstered by Federal Reserve officials reiterating pledges to refrain from tightening monetary policy until the labor market is recovered. To some analysts, the big miss in the monthly jobs report was a reassuring sign that the Fed wouldn't move more quickly than expected to raise rates.

Nasdaq futures soared in the wake of the data, highlighting the continued back and forth in the market between technology shares -- which have flourished as interest rates have stayed low and the economy floundered -- and cyclical corners of the market that many investors thought were poised to benefit from a speedy economic recovery. On signs of flagging economic momentum, investors again quickly piled back into the tech-heavy Nasdaq.

JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, said technology stocks are seeing a "relief rally" after trading lower for much of the week.

"I think there was a big fear going into [today's report] that this number was going to come in so hot and put extreme pressure on the Fed," Mr. Kinahan said. "Many expected it could be...the number that started to take the markets down because it would be such an inflationary number."

He added that Friday's figure, combined with the downward revision in the March jobs number to 770,000, means the Federal Reserve will likely need to see much more substantial progress on the employment situation before considering a change in monetary policy.

"This week was really still a combination of the post-Covid recovery and how interest-rate policy will respond," said Kiran Ganesh, a multiasset strategist at UBS Global Wealth Management. "The performance of some cyclical stocks and commodities suggests that this reopening trade is still on track."

Earnings season continues, with self-driving truck company Nikola among those reporting Friday.

Peloton shares rose around 1%, paring earlier gains after the company reported a smaller quarterly loss than analysts expected and sales that more than doubled. Travel-booking website Expedia added 8.6% after also reporting a narrower loss than Wall Street forecast. Energy drinks maker Monster Beverage fell more than 5% after reporting first-quarter earnings that missed estimates and a shortage of aluminum cans.

In commodities, copper prices surpassed their 2011 highs and were on course to close at a record, fueled by bets on the global economic rebound and on rising demand from efforts to decarbonize the power and transportation sectors. Three-month copper forwards rose 2.4% to $10,355 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange. In New York, copper futures on CME Group's Comex rose 2.5% to $4.72 a pound.

Overseas, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 0.6%.

The Shanghai Composite Index pulled back 0.7%, and Japan's Nikkei 225 advanced 0.1%.

Caitlin McCabe contributed to this article.

Write to Anna Hirtenstein at anna.hirtenstein@wsj.com and Gunjan Banerji at Gunjan.Banerji@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 07, 2021 16:20 ET (20:20 GMT)

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