Stocks rose slightly on Friday as traders pored through the latest U.S. jobs report, putting the major averages on pace for another weekly advance.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded higher by 150 points, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 gained 0.6% to hit a fresh all-time high, and the Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.4%.
Chevron and Caterpillar rose more than 2% each to lead the Dow higher. Energy was the best-performing S&P 500 sector, gaining 3.7%.
The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November. That’s well below a Dow Jones consensus estimate of 440,000. The unemployment rate, however, matched expectations by falling to 6.7% from 6.9%.
However, some traders saw the weaker-than-expected number as a positive because it could pressure lawmakers to mover forward with additional fiscal stimulus.
Friday’s jobs report data “is beckoning lawmakers to act on additional fiscal stimulus measures in order to bridge the output gap in the economy until a vaccine is deployed and the longer they hold out the wider the gap may become,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist at Allianz Investment Management.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer tweeted the report “report shows the need for strong, urgent emergency relief is more important than ever.”
JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, noted the report “was not as bad as it seems” in part because a chunk of the lost jobs came from the U.S. government as the 2020 Census count wrapped up.
Kinahan also noted “it’s really hard to estimate what these numbers are going to be when states are going from being completely shut down to being completely open. I think you’re seeing that in the market’s reaction.”
Brad McMillan, CIO for Commonwealth Financial Network, also pointed out that average hours worked “remained strong” last month, “suggesting that overall labor demand remains healthy, and the drop in the unemployment rates suggests the labor market continues to tighten.”
Friday’s report comes as the number of coronavirus cases has been rising sharply. The U.S. reported record numbers on Thursday of new infections, single-day deaths and hospitalizations.
On Thursday, the stock market was hit by a report suggesting troubles with Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine rollout. Major averages swiftly fell to their session lows after Dow Jones reported said Pfizer expects to ship half of the Covid-19 vaccines it originally planned for this year due to supply-chain problems.
Still, Pfizer and BioNtech are on track to roll out 1.3 billion vaccines in 2021 and the 50 million dose shortfall this year will be covered as production ramps up, the report said.
The major averages were on pace to post their fourth weekly gain in five weeks. Entering Friday’s session, the Dow was up 0.2%, and the S&P 500 had gained 0.8%. The Nasdaq had risen 1.4% this week through Thursday’s close.
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