Stocks Get a Boost From Solid March Jobs Report


U.S. stocks are edging higher in Friday afternoon trading. Consumer companies are rising after the government said job growth continued at a strong clip in March. Energy and mining companies are struggling as the prices of oil drop and precious metals drop.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average picked up 39 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,724 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index added two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,061. The Nasdaq composite index rose 17 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,887.

HIRING CONTINUES: The U.S. government reported that private employers added 215,000 jobs in March, a bit more than expected. That shows employers are confident enough to add staff even though overall economic growth has slowed down. More people also looked for work and pay ticked higher.

CONSUMER POWER: Consumer companies advanced. McDonald’s rose $1.54, or 1.2 percent, to $127.22, and Visa picked up 97 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $77.45. Home Depot added $1.16 to $134.59.

THE QUOTE: Kate Warne, investment strategist for Edward Jones, said the report shows the U.S. economy is staying on track and growth remains steady in spite of all the stock-market turmoil this year.

“That means more spending on everything from housing to McDonald’s,” she said. “It’s one more confirmation that the worries from earlier in the year really weren’t warranted.”

OIL: Energy prices dropped as investors grew pessimistic about the fate of a proposed deal for major oil-producing nations to reduce production. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.35, or 3.5 percent, to $36.99 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped $1.53, or 3.8 percent, to $38.80 a barrel in London.

Chevron lost $1.13, or 1.2 percent, to $94.27, and Marathon Oil retreated 61 cents, or 5.4 percent, to $10.54.

HITTING THE GAS: Tesla Motors gained $6.68, or 2.9 percent, to $236.45. The electric-car company said it received 115,000 orders for the Model 3, the new, lower-priced vehicle it announced on Thursday.

DRIVE MY CAR: Automakers are falling even though the U.S. auto industry is on pace for its best month in 10 years. While people keep buying cars and trucks in big numbers, discounts are jumping, and there were more selling days last month than usual, which boosted sales.

Ford lost 38 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $13.12, and General Motors declined 89 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $30.54.

ANBANG SAYS BYE: Just days after it offered to buy Starwood Hotels for $15 billion, a consortium led by Anbang Insurance Group ended its bid. Starwood had accepted a $14 billion offer from Marriott, but said Anbang’s bid was better.

Starwood fell $4.38, or 5.2 percent, to $79.05, and Marriott lost $4.35, or 6.1 percent, to $66.83. The deal would create the biggest hotel chain in the world, and competing hotel companies also fell. Hilton shed 61 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $21.91.

REGENERATING: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals jumped after an eczema drug it is developing with Sanofi met its goals in a late-stage clinical trial. The stock gained $41.26, or 11.4 percent, to $401.70, leading a recovery in drugmaking stocks. Biotechnology companies including Amgen and Gilead Sciences also traded higher.

GOING SOUR: Smartphone maker Blackberry reported disappointing quarterly results, with sales that fell far short of estimates. Its stock gave up 55 cents, or 6.8 percent, to $7.54.

LOSING ALTITUDE: Airlines fell after an analyst warned that companies may slash their business travel. Michael Linenberg of Deutsche Bank said U.S. corporate profits are getting squeezed, and he downgraded Delta, United Continental, American Airlines and Hawaiian.

Delta dipped $1.60, or 3.3 percent, to $47.08, and United Continental fell $3.54, or 5.9 percent, to $56.32. American sank $1.40, or 3.4 percent, to $39.61.

METALS: Gold skidded $20.20, or 1.6 percent, to $1,215.50 an ounce, and silver fell 58 cents, or 3.7 percent, to $14.89 an ounce.

OUTPERFORMING: Retailer Urban Outfitters disclosed strong sales at its older stores, and the stock added 92 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $34.01. Urban Outfitters is the best-performing stock on the S&P 500 index this year, as its value has surged 51 percent.

OVERSEAS: Stocks overseas tumbled. Germany’s DAX lost 1.7 percent, and the CAC-40 in France tumbled 1.4 percent, and in Britain, the FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 sank 3.6 percent, while South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 1.3 percent. Asian markets were hit by weak Japanese economic data. Japan’s big exporters have been hit by a double whammy of a slowing Chinese economy and a rising yen.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices slipped. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.78 percent from 1.77 percent. The dollar fell to 112.02 yen from 112.53 yen, while the euro was unchanged at $1.1387.