Strong jobs report sends most stocks and bond yields higher
Wall Street closed a choppy trading week on Friday with large gains, which helped push the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average to new highs.
The S&P 500 rose 0.2%, a day after hitting a new all-time high. Every major index recorded a weekly gain after slipping last week.
Some of the more brutal actions have occurred in the bond market, where Treasury yields tend to move with expectations for the economy and inflation. The 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 1.31% from 1.21% on Thursday night, recouping all the losses it suffered in the past week.
Investors weighed in on a government report showing that the US labor market is improving vastly. Most stocks on Wall Street rose on the report, with companies with earnings most closely tied to a strong economy leading the way. Financial firms posted the biggest gains in the S&P 500, climbing 2%. Materials companies were also big winners, adding 1.5%.
“Now the growth appears to be on pretty solid ground,” said Sameer Samana, senior global markets strategist at the Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
The S&P 500 gained 7.42 points to 4,436.52. The benchmark index posted a gain of 0.9% for the week. The Dow Jones gained 144.26 points, or 0.4%, to 35,208.51. The Nasdaq lost 59.36 points, or 0.4%, to 14,835.76, while the Russell 2000 Small Business Index rose 11.75 points, or 0.5%, to 2,247.76 .
Friday’s jobs report showed hiring was stronger than economists had expected, with employers adding 943,000 workers to their payrolls. Average wages also jumped 4% in July from a year earlier, more than economists had expected.
Bond yields surged after economists said the encouraging jobs report would give the Federal Reserve another boost to cut back on its bond buying program, which tries to boost the economy by keeping the low long-term rate. Economists believe that an announcement by the Fed on a possible slowdown in purchases could come as soon as the end of the month.
The strong jobs report and expectations of a labor market recovery could prompt investors to look to companies that are ready to take advantage of higher exits and spending, including airlines, retailers, restaurants and other businesses providing in-person services, Samana said.
Better-than-expected economic data has gained momentum in tech stocks, which have been among Wall Street’s biggest winners since the pandemic.
They were the big beneficiaries of the ultra-low interest rates that the Federal Reserve introduced. When bonds earn little interest, investors are willing to pay higher prices for other types of investments, especially stocks of companies that are expected to grow earnings in the distant future.
A rise in interest rates could undermine these stocks, or at least add a headwind that has been largely absent for over a year. A slowdown in bond purchases by the Fed would be the first step towards raising short-term interest rates from their all-time low of near zero.
This is why the Nasdaq struggled more than the other indices on Friday. This is also why the benchmark S&P 500 made mostly listless moves, even though more than 60% of the stocks in the index rose.
Apple, Microsoft, Nvidia and other tech stocks account for 28% of the S&P 500 in market value, more than double the weight of any of the 10 other sectors that make up the index. That doesn’t even include some big tech-focused companies like Amazon and Tesla.
These five companies were the biggest weightings in the S&P 500.
The S&P 500’s biggest gain came from Corteva, an agricultural company spin-off from DowDuPont. It jumped 8% after reporting higher revenues and profits for the last quarter than Wall Street expected.
This has been the norm for this earnings season. Almost 90% of S&P 500 companies told investors how much they earned in the spring, and their profits were about double what they were a year ago.