Stocks blasted through to record highs on Friday, leap-frogging yesterday’s encouraging performance on the strength of an unexpectedly good nonfarm payroll jobs report from the Labor Department that indicated the nation’s unemployment rate was down another 0.1 percent to 7.5.
Labor’s report for April showed that the economy added 165,000 nonfarm jobs during the month, besting estimates of 145,000. While the increase itself was welcome, the report also surprised many analysts and investors who had been anticipating Friday’s results from the perspective of the ADP’s private sector jobs report from earlier in the week.
Perhaps equally as significant were Labor’s substantial upward revisions to its reports from February and March, adding 64,000 and 50,000 new jobs created respectively.
The report also showed a 0.2 percent decrease in hours worked, as well as no gains in manufacturing jobs, and a loss of 6,000 jobs for the construction sector. The service sector, on the other hand, increased by 185,000 jobs while retail added 29,000.
The S&P 500 closed at a record high for the third time this week, breaking the 16,000 mark for the first time ever. The index closed on a gain of 1.05 percent, to 1,614.39 points. Basic materials companies figured prominently in to the day’s gains, with United States Steel Corp. (X) up 6.68 percent to $18.20, and oil & gas company WPX Energy (WPX) up 5.64 percent to $16.66. Kraft Foods Group (KRFT) rode the momentum of its impressive earnings report from the previous evening to a gain of 5.12 percent to closr at $53.12.
Financial stocks also made a showing, with Charles Schwab (SCHW) up 5.78 percent to $17.93, American International Group (AIG) up 5.66 percent to $44.51, and XL Group plc (XL) up 4.11 percent to $32.06 per share.
The Dow briefly moved above 15,000 points in intraday trading on its way to a 0.96 percent gain to close at 14,973.96 , with industrial goods companies leading the charge. Caterpillar Inc. (CAT) led gainers with an increase of 3.42 percent to close at $87.14, followed by aerospace & defense giants United Technologies (UTX), up 1.63 percent to $93.25, Boeing Co. (BA) up 1.56 percent to $93.65, and General Electric (GE) up 1.33 percent to $22.62.
Basic materials also had a good day, with gains for Alcoa (AA), Exxon Mobil (XOM), and Chevron (CVX) all closing on a gain of over 1 percent.
The Dow also had its laggards, particularly from the health care sector, topped by Pfizer Inc. (PFE) down 0.91 percent to $29.00 per share, and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), down 0.65 percent to $59.10. In tech, AT&T (T) was down 0.53 percent to $37.36, and Intel (INTC) dropped 0.38 percent to close at $24.02.
The Nasdaq advanced 1.14 percent to 3,378.63 points, with Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) up once again on a gain of 5.48 percent to $55.04, Micron Technology up 3.33 percent to $9.63, and Apple Inc. (AAPL) up 1 percent to close at $449.98, as investors become more comfortable with the company’s recently announced dividends and share buyback plan, as well as its bond offering.
Shares for Facebook (FB) dropped 2.27 percent to $28.31 as investors still try to separate the good from the bad in its earnings report from Wednesday. The REIT American Capital Agency Corp. (AGNC) was down 7.37 percent to close at $30.66, the largest loss based on volume behind Intel and Facebook.
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