Related News

Home » Business » Finance

Stocks post modest gains as job losses slow

INVESTORS added to the week's strong gains in the stock market after finding some positives in a surprisingly weak jobs report.

Stock indexes posted a modest advance in light trading yesterday after the Labor Department said the US unemployment rate topped 10 percent in October for the first time since 1983, but also that the pace of job losses slowed.

The rise in joblessness, while not welcome news for the economy, reassured some investors that the Federal Reserve will have to hold interest rates low for some time. That tends to weaken demand for the dollar, which in turn gives a boost to stocks.

"We got data today that suggests that interest rates are going to be on hold for a while," said Max Bublitz, chief strategist at SCM Advisors.

When the dollar is weaker, US goods are cheaper for buyers overseas. Companies that do business overseas also get a profit boost when their earnings are translated back into dollars.

Safe-haven assets like Treasurys were mixed. Oil prices tumbled and gold topped US$1,100 an ounce for the first time. Gold benefits when investors are worried about a weak dollar and inflation.

Meanwhile, General Electric Co. rose 6 percent after analysts raised their ratings on the stocks. It was the biggest gainer among the 30 Dow industrials.

The jobs report bodes poorly for consumer spending, a key driver of the economy. Economists say stronger consumer spending will be necessary to sustain a recovery.

The Labor Department said employers cut 190,000 jobs last month, fewer than the 219,000 jobs lost in September, but more than forecast. The unemployment rate jumped to 10.2 percent from 9.8 percent in September.

The market has been expecting unemployment to top 10 percent before peaking. But the pace of job losses has accelerated and the rate is likely to go higher.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.46, or 0.2 percent, to 10,023.42. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 2.67, or 0.3 percent, to 1,069.30, while the Nasdaq composite index rose 7.12, or 0.3 percent, to 2,112.44.

For the week, the Dow and the S&P 500 index added 3.2 percent, while the Nasdaq rose 3.3 percent.

Advancing stocks narrowly outpaced those that fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.1 billion shares compared with 1.3 billion Thursday.

Bond prices mostly climbed. The benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose, pushing its yield down to 3.51 percent from 3.53 percent late Thursday.

Oil fell US$2.12 to settle at US$77.87 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold rose US$6.40 to settle at US$1,095.70 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange, adding 5.3 percent for the week.

Jeffrey Friedman, senior market strategist at Lind-Waldock, a futures brokerage, said the jobs report is worrisome.

"We're still losing jobs. 10.2 is not a good number. And in reality, it's probably even higher," he said.

Some analysts saw reasons for optimism in the report. The number of temporary service jobs rose 34,000. Companies that are reluctant to commit to hiring workers will often first bring in temps to meet demand until they're more confident of a turnaround in the economy.

Linda Duessel, equity market strategist at Federated Investors, noted that payroll numbers turn higher an average of four and a half months after temp numbers begin to rise.

"We've been looking for temps to turn and they turned," she said. "It's good."

Although investors found a few bright spots in the jobs report, the numbers did shake confidence in the economic recovery, stoked Thursday by an encouraging outlook from Cisco Systems Inc., better data on productivity and higher sales at major retailers. The Dow jumped 203 points on the day's string of good news to close above 10,000 for the first time in two weeks.

Thursday's jump brought most of the week's advance. The market rose Monday after improved manufacturing and housing figures raised expectations for the economy. Moves on Tuesday and Wednesday were modest.

Investors will have fewer economic reports to drive trading next week. A report due yesterday on consumer sentiment will draw attention because traders are eager for any signals about how consumers will spend heading into the holiday season.

Earnings reports are due from retailers J.C. Penney Co., Macy's Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as well as Walt Disney Co.

Investors will also be tracking the ability of the government to raise money. The Treasury Department plans to auction US$81 billion in debt next week. Analysts are watching for signs that demand is weakening for government debt because that could threaten government stimulus spending and boost interest rates.

In corporate news, Starbucks Corp. jumped US$1.42, or 7.2 percent, to US$21.12 after the coffee chain said late Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit rose and it raised its fiscal 2010 earnings forecast because of an increase in customers.

GE advanced 90 cents, or 6.2 percent, to US$15.33 after analysts boosted their expectations for the company.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 0.80, or 0.1 percent, to 580.35.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend