Stocks Climb as Job Report Gives Some Solace After Wild Week

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks climbed Friday after a report showed the U.S. jobs market is still growing enough for the unemployment rate to drop to a five-decade low, even though it’s slowing.

The report gave some reassurance after a week full of surprisingly weak numbers on U.S. manufacturing and services activity, which earlier sent the S&P 500 to its first back-to-back loss of 1% this year. The index is still on track for its third straight week of losses.

Employers added 136,000 jobs last month, slightly less than the 145,000 that economists were expecting and below the 168,000 pace from August. Growth in worker’s wages was also weaker than expected, with zero growth from a month before. On the encouraging side, the government said hiring in prior months was stronger than initially estimated, and the unemployment rate dropped to 3.5% from 3.7%.

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“While the bears may take this as a further confirmation of a slower economy, it is actually a pretty strong read, especially when you factor in previous revisions” said Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E-Trade Financial.

If the job market can remain strong, it would allow U.S. households to keep spending. And that spending strength has been the hero for the economy recently, propping it up when slowing growth abroad is threatening and President Donald Trump’s trade war with China saps exports and manufacturing.

Treasury yields rose after the report’s release, arresting their slide from earlier in the week. Stock markets around the world also rose following the report, and gold fell as investors felt less need for safety. Three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.

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KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was up 0.7%, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The index, though, remains down 1% for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 200 points, or 0.8%, to 26,408, and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.8%.

ECONOMIC CHECK: Anticipation built through the week for Friday’s jobs report as a parade of weak data on the economy shook markets around the world. Manufacturing activity contracted at its sharpest pace in a decade, and growth in the nation’s services sector slowed last month.

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Friday’s mixed report shows a jobs market that is slowing but still growing, and economists said it perhaps means a rate cut at the Federal Reserve’s meeting later this month is no longer a slam dunk.

The year on the 10-year Treasury yield held steady at 1.53%. The two-year yield, which moves more on expectations about Fed activity, rose to 1.41% from 1.37% late Thursday.

MARKETS ABROAD: European stock markets turned higher following the release of the U.S. jobs report, and the French CAC 40 gained 0.7%. The German DAX added 0.5%, and the FTSE 100 in London rose 1%.

In Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 added 0.3%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng tumbled 1.1% and Seoul’s Kospi fell 0.5%.

COMMODITIES: Crude oil recovered some of its sharp losses from earlier in the week, which were spurred by worries about weakening demand and growing supplies.

Benchmark U.S. crude rose 56 cents, or 1.1%, to $53.01 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 96 cents to $58.67 per barrel.

Gold gave back some of its big gains from earlier in the week and slipped $7.00 to $1,506.80 per ounce.


By AP reporter Stan Choe

AP Business Writers Joe McDonald and Matt Ott contributed to this report.

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