U.S. stocks end higher after job report, and Dow scores longest weekly winning streak since February 2019


U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average scoring its longest weekly winning streak since February 2019, as investors digested the latest job report.

How stock indexes traded

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average
    DJIA
    rose 130.49 points, or 0.4%, to close at 36,247.87, its highest closing value since Jan. 12, 2022.

  • The S&P 500
    SPX
    gained 18.78 points, or 0.4%, to finish at 4,604.37, marking its highest close since March 29, 2022.

  • The Nasdaq Composite
    COMP
    climbed 63.98 points, or 0.4%, to end at 14,403. 97, scoring its highest closing value since April 4, 2022.

For the week, the Dow eked out a gain of less than 0.1%, the S&P 500 edged up 0.2% and the Nasdaq advanced 0.7%. All three major indexes rose for a sixth straight week, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

What drove markets

U.S. stocks ended higher Friday as investors parsed a stronger-than-expected job report.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that the economy added 199,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.7% from 3.9%. Economists polled by the Wall Street Journal had forecast that 190,000 jobs would be added in the month.

“It’s nice to see that a soft landing still can take place,” Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment officer at BMO Wealth Management, said by phone Friday. But the market had been getting “too optimistic” about potential interest-rate cuts by the Federal Reserve in the early part of next year, he added.

The job report is “perhaps a wash” for markets as “average hourly earnings growth came in a little on the high side,” Ma said. That could contribute to inflationary pressures and push a Fed pivot on rate cuts further out in 2024 than markets were expecting. 

“The Fed can probably be patient for a while,” he said. Fed Chair Jerome Powell may “strike a bit more of a hawkish tone” after the central bank’s monetary-policy meeting next week, potentially pushing back against some of the enthusiasm for earlier rate cuts, Ma said.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.4% in November, up 4% year over year, the job report shows.

“Even though the headline 199,000 new jobs created is just slightly above consensus estimates for 190,000 new positions, the lower unemployment rate of 3.7%, coupled with higher-than-expected average hourly earnings, caused a jump higher in Treasury yields,” Quincy Krosby, chief global strategist at LPL Financial, said in emailed comments.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y
climbed 11.5 basis points Friday to 4.244%, according to Dow Jones Market Data. That’s below its high this year of about 5% in October.

Meanwhile, the stock market’s so-called fear gauge remained low, with the CBOE Volatility Index
VIX
declining to 12.35 on Friday, FactSet data show.

See: The VIX says stocks are ‘reliably in a bull market’ heading into 2024. Here’s how to read it.

In other economic data released Friday, the University of Michigan’s gauge of consumer sentiment rose to a preliminary reading of 69.4 in December, its first increase in five months. Inflation expectations also moderated, the university’s survey of consumer sentiment showed.

Such a big swing for a single reading of the survey is unusual, said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist who now runs a consulting business. “These data usually don’t move like that,” she said during a phone interview with MarketWatch.

Next week’s economic calendar will include a reading on U. S. inflation from the consumer-price index as well as the outcome of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting, scheduled to conclude Dec. 13.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 notched a sixth straight week of gains, its longest such winning streak since the stretch ending Nov. 15, 2019, according to Dow Jones Market Data. The Dow Jones Industrial Average logged its longest stretch of weekly gains since February 2019.

Companies in focus

Steve Goldstein contributed.

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