The three major U.S. indexes rose 1 percent on Friday, with the Nasdaq touching a record, after strong job additions in February but sluggish wage growth that pointed to a gradual rise in inflation and helped temper expectations of faster rate increases. Helping sentiment on a day the bull market for stocks turned nine were signs of a potential breakthrough in nuclear tensions in the Korean peninsula and President Donald Trump’s softened stance on tariffs. “You got sort of a Goldilocks report with stronger employment, coupled with modest wage growth, but not enough that forces the Fed to act more rapidly than they otherwise would,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.
Strong jobs data last month fueled speculation that higher wages could lead to faster interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, rattling global equities market. At 12:42 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 327.75 points, or 1.32 percent, the S&P 500 gained 34.78 points, or 1.27 percent. The Nasdaq Composite was up 98.82 points, or 1.33 percent, at 7,526.76. The index touched record high of 7,531.47. While the Dow is up 8 percent from the February lows, it remains about 5 percent off record highs seen in January.
The S&P is about 3 percent off its January record highs but up more than 9 percent from last month’s lows. Yet, the bull run appears poised to set the record as the longest in history, buoyed by global economic growth and stronger company earnings. Friday’s gains were broad-based, with Microsoft and Apple Inc giving the biggest boost to the S&P and Nasdaq. Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 313,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years.
Average hourly earnings edged up 0.1 percent, a slowdown from the 0.3 percent rise in January. That lowered the year-on-year increase in average hourly earnings to 2.6 percent from 2.8 percent in January. Worries that the hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum could ignite a global trade war had roiled markets since last Thursday, with the exit of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn intensifying the concerns. Among bigger movers, toymakers Hasbro and Mattel were lower after sources told Reuters that retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is preparing for a potential liquidation.
Tesla fell 1.2 percent, following the exit of its chief accounting officer and a Morgan Stanley note on rising competition. Goldman Sachs Group Inc shares were up 1 percent after the Wall Street Journal reported Lloyd Blankfein is preparing to step down as the bank’s chief executive as soon as the end of the year. Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 2,048 to 796. On the Nasdaq, 2,042 issues rose and 825 fell.