Jobs data push Wall Street stocks to new highs

Rosy but not red hot US jobs numbers were welcomed by the market.
Rosy but not red hot US jobs numbers were welcomed by the market.

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks surged to fresh records Friday while the dollar retreated after a solid US jobs report that was not seen as accelerating a monetary policy shift.

After a muted session in Europe, the three major US indices notched all-time highs after the Labor Department reported the US economy added 850,000 jobs in June, better than expected and far stronger than in the prior two months.

Analysts however said the much-anticipated monthly data was not uniformly outstanding, noting that unemployment ticked up to 5.9%.

The market viewed the data as a “Goldilocks”-type outcome in reference to the fairy tale character, who famously preferred her porridge at the right temperature, not too hot or too cold. analyst Patrick O’Hare characterized the data as “okay.”

The report “tabled any kind of concern that the report would stir the Fed to action faster than expected,” he told AFP in an interview.

Most large tech firms enjoyed another banner session, with Apple and Microsoft piling on 2% or more, along with Amazon, where founder Jeff Bezos is set to step down as CEO next week, but maintain a leadership position as chairman.

But IBM shares fell 4.6, weighing on the Dow, as it announced that Jim Whitehurst would step down as president of the tech giant following the integration of Red Hat, which Whitehurst had led prior to its acquisition by IBM.

Meanwhile, oil prices were mixed as markets monitored grinding talks among petroleum producers in the OPEC+ alliance, which again failed to reach agreement on production quotas, saying late Friday that negotiations would resume next week.

European markets ended the day little changed.

Asia was mixed as investors weighed the fact the Delta variant of coronavirus has forced several governments, including Australia and South Africa, to reimpose lockdown measures.

Exchanges in Tokyo, Sydney, Singapore, Wellington, Manila, Mumbai and Jakarta were all up, while Seoul and Taipei were marginally lower.

Hong Kong and Shanghai fell sharply, however, following a recent run-up in the days leading into Thursday’s Chinese Communist Party centenary celebrations, when authorities looked to provide support to markets.

The dollar took a hit following the US jobs report, which “brings us no closer to a Fed taper than we were yesterday, other than of course the passing of 24 hours,” Wells Fargo said in a note.

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