Nasdaq at 11-year high as jobless rate falls to 8.3%
A 157-point gain puts the Dow at pre-2008 crash levels after the economy adds 243,000 jobs in January, the most since April. The services economy also sees growth. Crude oil and interest rates rise; gold slips. Apple hits a new high.
Stocks surged to multiyear highs today after the government reported the national unemployment rate dropped to 8.3%, a three-year low, as employment grew by more than 2 million since last summer.
The report from the Labor Department was much better than economists had expected. It also showed nonfarm payrolls jumped by the highest amount since April. "This is a game-changer," wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist of High Frequency Economics.
The Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) hit their highest level since May 2008. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) soared to levels last seen in December 2000. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) is off to its best yearly start since 1987. The rally sent a number of stocks to all-time highs, including Panera Bread (PNRA), Alaska Air (ALK), Peet's Coffee (PEET), MasterCard (MA) and shopping-mall operator Simon Property Group (SPG).
The market gains sent most commodity prices higher. Rising employment could boost home construction and increase demand for raw materials such as copper and wood. Crude oil (-CL) was higher in part because of the jobs report but also because of worries of an Israeli-Iran war. Gold (-GC), however, fell back.
The Dow closed up 157 points to 12,862, its first gain of more than 100 points since Jan. 3. The S&P 500 added 19 points to 1,345, and the Nasdaq jumped 46 points to 2,906. The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX), which tracks the largest Nasdaq stocks, climbed 33 points to 2,529.
Article continues below.
The Dow finished the week with a 1.6% gain. The S&P 500 rose 2.2%, with the Nasdaq up 3.2%. For the year, the Dow is up 5.3%, with the S&P 500 up 6.9% and the Nasdaq up 11.5%.
The gains for the Nasdaq and Nasdaq-100 reflect steady gains for such big tech stocks as Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Oracle (ORCL), Dell (DELL), Netflix (NFLX) and SeagateTechnologies (STX).
|Markets for the week|
|2/3/2012||1/27/2012||% chg.||YTD chg.|
|U.S. Dollar Index||79.06||79.01||0.06%||-1.82%|
A big and pleasant surprise on jobs
The Labor Department said the economy added 243,000 jobs in January, the biggest monthly gain since a gain of 251,000 in April 2011 -- before the effects of the Japanese earthquake, turmoil in the Middle East and Europe, and budget battles in Washington sapped investor and consumer confidence.
Economists had been looking for a gain of 140,000 to 150,000. A few predicted gains of less than 100,000.
The 8.3% unemployment rate was the lowest since February 2009. The number of employed was up 847,000 from December and 2.25 million from June -- gains that were partly due to better population estimates.
One consequence of the jobs report -- if the gains are sustained -- is that it may force the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates perhaps by 2013. The Fed has said it might not push rates higher until late 2014.
The jobless rate has now fallen by 0.8 percentage points in the past six months, the fastest decline since 1984, according to the government. But the economy has recovered only 37% of the 8.6 million jobs lost between January 2008 and February 2010.
The private sector produced just about all of January's job gains. While federal agencies and local governments continued to lay off workers, private-sector employers added 257,000 jobs in January. The industries with the biggest gains were manufacturing, professional and business services, and leisure and hospitality.
There were gains in construction jobs, even a small gain in residential construction jobs.
And the drop in the unemployment rate reflected employment rising faster than the labor force, not people leaving the labor market, noted Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight.
Although the number of unemployed people has been falling -- about 12.8 million from 13.1 million in December and 13.9 million in January 2011 -- the number is still about equal to the population of Pennsylvania, The New York Times noted.
Long-term unemployment is one of the most crushing legacies of the recent recession. According to an analysis of December’s Labor Department numbers released earlier this week by the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative, nearly a third of the jobless have been unemployed for a year or more. In January, the Labor Department reported that 5.5 million people had been out of work for six months or more.
If January's gains can continue, it would still take two years to regain those lost jobs, Philippa Dunne and Doug Henwood of the Liscio Report said in a note to clients. But the head winds are considerable: Europe, China and the potential for deep federal spending cuts.
ISM non-manufacturing is growing, too
As welcome as the jobs report was, a second report reinforced the idea of a strengthening economy.
The Institute for Supply Management said today its nonmanufacturing index rose to 56.8, its best level in a year. A reading above 50 indicates the sector is growing.
"It is quite clear that conditions have improved. But we’re reluctant to get too carried away just yet," wrote Paul Dales of Capital Economics, a British economic consulting firm. "It is worth remembering that the economy began both 2010 and 2011 strongly before fading later in each year."
His worry is that economic weakness in Europe and elsewhere may cause the gains to fade.
Oil gains; gold and silver slide
Crude oil rose $1.45 to $97.81 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which reacts more to Middle Eastern pressures, was up $1.75 to $113.08. Brent is up 2.1% this week and 6% for the year.
Oil moved higher after Iran's supreme leader vowed today to retaliate over oil sanctions and threats of military action by the West to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Ayatollah Ali Khameini warned that the United States in particular would face severe damage to its interests if any strike were carried out against its nuclear sites.
His comments were Khameini's most public response to mounting tension between Western powers and Iran in recent weeks. They came amid increasing concern among American officials that Israel may soon strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Gold, meanwhile, settled down $19 to $1,740.30 an ounce. Silver was off 42.6 cents to $33.749 an ounce.
Interest rates moved higher on the jobs report. The 10-year Treasury yield rose to 1.949% from Thursday's 1.825%. The dollar was higher against major currencies.
|Energy prices -- New York close|
|Fri.||Thur.||Month chg.||YTD chg.|
|Crude oil (-CL)||$97.84||$96.36||-0.65%||-1.00%|
|Heating oil (-HO)||$3.1144||$3.0529||1.68%||6.87%|
|Natural gas (-NG)||$2.4990||$2.5540||-0.16%||-16.39%|
|(per mil. BTU)|
|Unleaded gasoline (-RB)||$2.9144||$2.8689||0.81%||9.67%|
|(per gallon; AAA)|
A broad rally led by banks
Today's is a broad rally led by financial, consumer discretionary and energy stocks. All 10 sectors of the S&P 500 were higher. The weakest group was utilities stocks.
Transportation, housing and airline stocks were stronger, as were housing, steel and small-cap stocks.
The reason Simon Property Group hit an all-time high today was that it reported a 10.7% gain in sales per square foot at its shopping malls -- a sign the big mall isn't dead yet. The company boosted guidance and raised its dividend to 95 cents a share from 90 cents. Shares closed up $1.28 to $138.73. Shares rose 29.6% in 2011 and are up 7.6% this year.
Twenty-seven of the 30 Dow stocks were higher, with Bank of America (BAC) the leader, up 39 cents to $7.84, its highest level since September. The two laggards were Merck (MRK), down 7 cents to $38.37, and Procter & Gamble (PG), down 55 cents to $62.77.
Meanwhile, nearly 430 S&P 500 stocks were higher, led by Genworth Financial (GNW), Gilead Sciences (GILD) and Tenet Healthcare (THC).
Eighty-eight Nasdaq-100 stocks were higher, led byGilead Sciencesand Sears Holdings (SHLD). Gilead said an experimental hepatitis C treatment, which came with its acquisition of Pharmasset, produced positive clinical trial results.
Apple hit a new intraday high of $460 and closed at $459.68, up $4.56. Microsoft hit a 52-week high of $30.40 before finishing at $30.24, up 29 cents. The close was its first above $30 since May 4, 2010. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)
Apple, Intel (INTC) and Microsoft contributed more than 10 points to the index's gain.
Shares of Micron Technology (MU) were halted this afternoon after news that CEO Steve Appleton, 51, was killed in a small-plane crash in Boise, Idaho, where Micron is headquartered. Before trading was halted, Micron was up 23 cents to $7.95.
|Short hits from the markets -- New York close|
|Fri.||Thur.||Month chg.||YTD chg.|
|13-week Treasury bill||0.0700%||0.080%||0.00%||600.00%|
|5-year Treasury note||0.785%||0.711%||0.00%||-5.42%|
|10-year Treasury note||1.949%||1.825%||8.34%||4.17%|
|30-year Treasury bond||3.151%||3.011%||7.40%||9.07%|
|U.S. Dollar Index||79.057||79.110||-0.45%||-1.82%|
|(in U.S. $)|
|U.S. $ in pounds||£0.632||£0.632||-0.21%||-1.79%|
|Euro in dollars||$1.31||$1.31||0.07%||1.49%|
|(in U.S. $)|
|U.S. $ in euros||€ 0.761||€ 0.761||-0.07%||-1.46%|
|U.S. $ in yen||76.75||76.18||0.38%||-0.46%|
|U.S. $ in Chinese||6.32||6.30||-0.09%||-0.06%|
|(in U.S. $)|
|(in Canadian $)|
|(per troy ounce)|
|(per troy ounce)|
|Crude oil (-CL)||$97.84||$96.36||-0.65%||-1.00%|
I'm not working today because it's my "furlough friday" and 11 of my coworkers got laid off this week.
This whole world is just one big manipulated mess....
"The Labor Department said the economy added 243,000 jobs in January"
I would love to see the details such as which companies hired, what type of jobs, were they full-time and permanent etc. etc.
130.4 million jobs in Jan.
UE rate goes DOWN by .2%
Got it. Anyone else here see the CRAP in the numbers? "Seasonal adjustments" and 1.2 million of those are blown off as a decline in LFP or labor force participation (meaning 1.2 million gave up). The other 1.3 million jobs not there (available).......where did they go..... that must be the seasonal adjustment? They took out the holiday jobs and just blew them off. Bogus GovCo numbers.
Seems like political crap to me. Just the gov't manipulating the numbers. Try 3 times 8.3% & that would be closer to the truth.
The official jobless rate is a lie. Many people lose benefits, while others simply stop looking for work. A lot are taking partial employment, or doing odd-jobs. And that's the real world. Whomever makes up these "statistics" doesn't live at street-level.
The Stock Market is held together with spit, chewing gum, and hope. The "insiders" shall decide when to take scalps from small investors, followed by another disastrous decline.
There are Lies, damned Lies and then, there are Statistics.....Benjamin Disraeli, Prime Minister, Great Britain, ca. 19th C.
THREE MILLION PEOPLE ARE NO LONGER COUNTED ON THE UNEMPLOYMENT LIST....THERE HAVE BEEN ZERO NET JOBS CREATED.....WE ARE ALL BEING LIED TO.....THE LIBERAL MEDIA WILL REPORT THIS BULL$HIT ALL THE WAY UP TO ELECTION DAY!....DO NOT BLINDLY FOLLOW, RESEARCH IT YOURSELF!!!
"You can't un-do 8 years of debt in 4 years"
Especially when you add 4 trillion to it in the last 3 years. And we'll still currently adding to it every minute of every day with no end in sight. Great job Obama.
It would take a lot more than a loser like you, to ever slap me down, fool.Trust me, you would never talk your sht to my face.Another internet tough guy that can't rub 2 nickels togetherImpressive!
it wasn't just me who slapped you down. A bunch of people did. Folks are getting real tired of you and your abuse.
Sounds to me like you are acting like the tough guy here. But all I can imagine when you write this nonsense is Barney Fife, fumbling for his bullet.
I looked up the entire 2/3/12 jobs report. The participation rate is 63.7 percent, same level of 1981. An mixed with under employed 15.1% still. The good thing, unemployment didn't increase for January.
Bit concerned though right now. Seeing at my job, last 3 weeks have been super slow. And mandetory over time has been dropped for the entire month of February. Getting more people who can't pay their bills. Microsoft is laying several people off in the area too. And a few other places are seeing about to lay more people off.
I hope things will get better. Have no political axe to grind. Don't give a rats about the elective officials anymore. I just want the economy to turn around. So far personally, I don't see it happening. And the numbers appear to me misleading even just factually as you look at it with participation levels low and 15.1% under employed by itself just says to me at least there weren't huge job losses last month.
Now looking forward, things look a bit slumpy. But come april with tax returns coming in, some demand should pick up. We'll see. I just wish oil wouldn't keep going up. Invest in gold or other stuff PLEASE! LOL!
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