Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stocks Surge to New Highs after Hiring Climbs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Stocks Surge to New Highs after Hiring Climbs

Article excerpt

Stocks surged to record highs Friday when a surprisingly good jobs report finally gave investors a clear sign of U.S. economic strength after weeks of conflicting signals.

The market jumped from the opening bell and a wave of buying helped the Standard and Poor's 500 index close above 1,600 for the first time. The Dow Jones industrial average briefly rose above 15,000, a milestone.

"There's euphoria today," said Stephen Carl, the head equity trader at The Williams Capital Group. "That's what you'd have to call it."

On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, brokers sported baseball caps emblazoned with "Dow 15,000."

Investors are hoping it's more than just a one-day celebration. Jobs are key to keeping stocks climbing. Big U.S. companies are making record profits, but much of that lately has come from cutting costs, not boosting sales. More jobs, and more consumer spending, would help.

The April jobs report was a good start. U.S. employers added 165,000 workers last month and many more in February and March than previously estimated. The unemployment rate fell to the lowest level in four years, 7.5 percent.

The Dow rose 142.38 points to close at a record 14,973.96, up 1 percent. The S&P 500 index climbed 16.83 points, or 1 percent, to 1,614.42, also a record.

"We're breaking through psychological barriers and that will continue to bring investors off the sidelines," said Darrell Cronk, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank. He called the jobs news "wonderful."

Cronk, like many others on Wall Street, has been watching individual investors for signs they may finally have shed their fear of stocks. A surge in buying from them would help push stocks higher. But individuals late last month pulled more money out of stock funds than they put in, a reversal from the trend earlier this year, according to the Investment Company Institute.

They have had reasons to pull back lately.

First came news of falling retail sales in March, then a series of weak manufacturing reports and signs of an economic slowdown in China.

Other reports, including two out Friday, have pointed to a slowdown. Factory orders sank in March and a gauge of growth in the service sector fell short of estimates. …

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