Stocks on Wall Street ended mostly higher on Friday to conclude the first full week of trading in 2014, with the Dow Jones Industrial average beating a slight retreat into negative territory.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 was up almost a quarter of a percent to 1,842.37 points, while the NASDAQ was up 0.44 percent to close at 4,174.66 points. The Dow Industrials were off by 0.05 percent to 16,037.05 by the closing bell.
The Department of Labor’s much-anticipated jobs report for the month of December came as a big surprise for Wall Street, as the nation added a mere 74,000 jobs during the period, well short of expectations for an addition of 193,000 jobs. The surprise was all the more significant given ADP’s (ADP) surprisingly great private sector jobs report earlier in the week.
Despite the miss on job creation, the unemployment rate in the US declined once again, to 6.7 percent, but stocks for the most part were not affected by concerns over the possibility that the Federal Reserve will be more willing to cut back on stimulus spending as the unemployment rate inches closer to the Central Bank’s 6.5 percent target rate.
After what could reasonably be described as a tough week, big tech stocks rallied on the day to lift the S&P 500 higher. Facebook (FB) , Microsoft (MSFT) , Micron Technology (MU) , Juniper Networks (JNPR) , and Cisco Systems (CSCO) all gained on the some of the day’s heaviest trading.
The Dow Industrials ended lower, at least in part as a result of the coming earnings season. Oil giant Chevron (CVX) was the benchmark index’s worst performer, dropping almost 2 percent by the end of trading after releasing an underwhelming update on it’s fourth-quarter numbers. Health insurance provider Unitedhealth Group (UNH) was not far behind, also down almost 2 percent, in reaction to news of the likelihood of greater than expected funding cuts for the Medicare Advantage program.
On the NASDAQ, the story was once again all about healthcare and tech stocks, as Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) continued to tear upwards, adding another 60 percent by the close after nearly tripling its share-price the previous day. Meanwhile, Sangamo BioSciences rose one percent, hitting a 10-year high on news of a forthcoming deal with Biogen Idec (BIIB) to develop treatments for hemoglobin disorders.
Electronics manufacturer Plug Power Inc. (PLUG) added another 10 percent after sustaining losses the previous day. The stock is up 40 percent on the week. Semiconductor manufacturer Atmel Corporation (ATML) added over 5 percent ahead of the close, and Intel (INTC) added almost 1 percent by the close.
Investors with a taste for IPOs will want to make sure to have a look at Equities.com Executive Editor Henry Truc’s analysis of the rhyme & reason behind Darden Restaurants’ (DRI) upcoming decision to spin-off its ailing Red Lobster chain.