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Stocks again post records after encouraging jobs data

The New York Stock Exchange in New York.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose for its seventh consecutive all-time high.
(Associated Press)

Wall Street capped a milestone-shattering week Friday with stock indexes hitting more record highs as investors welcomed a report showing the nation’s job market was even stronger last month than expected.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 0.8%, its seventh straight gain and seventh consecutive all-time high. The benchmark index also notched its second weekly gain in a row. The Nasdaq also set a record, getting a boost from technology stocks, which led the broad market rally. The only laggards were energy stocks and banks, which fell as Treasury yields headed lower.

Indexes climbed as soon as trading opened, after a U.S. government report said employers hired 850,000 more workers than they cut last month. It was a healthier reading than the 700,000-job gain that economists expected and an acceleration after a couple of months of disappointing growth.

Employers in California and the U.S. are scrambling to fill jobs as the dust from the pandemic begins to settle. Just don’t call it a labor shortage.

Still, unemployment remains well above the 3.5% rate that prevailed before the pandemic struck, and the economy remains 6.8 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic level. And while wages grew in June, the increase was less than expected, a good sign for investors worried about inflation pressures.

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The S&P 500 rose 32.40 points to 4,352.34. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 152.82 points, or 0.4%, closing at 34,786.35. The Nasdaq composite added 116.95 points, or 0.8%, ending at 14,639.33.

Smaller stocks in the Russell 2000 lagged. The index fell 23.60 points, or 1%, to 2,305.76.

Treasury yields were flat to lower after the jobs report, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.43% from 1.48% late Thursday.

Low interest rates help drive up prices for all kinds of stocks, but they provide particularly powerful fuel for high-growth companies whose prices may otherwise look expensive.

That helped push several influential tech-oriented stocks higher Friday. Microsoft gained 2.2%, and Apple rose 2%. Because those companies are so big, their stock movements carry extra heft for indexes, and they helped make up for losses by energy producers and financial companies.

Virgin Galactic rose 4.1% after saying it hopes to launch a test spaceflight on July 11, with founder Richard Branson on board.

U.S.-listed shares of Didi, a Chinese ride-hailing service, slumped 5.3% after China’s internet watchdog said it had launched an investigation into the company to protect national security and the public interest. Its shares began trading in New York on Wednesday.

Markets in Europe and Asia were mixed.

U.S. stock markets will be closed Monday in observance of the Fourth of July holiday.

Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to this report.


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