Stocks Edge Higher After Solid April Jobs Report


stocks, markets, Wall Streets

The U.S. government said that hiring bounced back in April, something investors had wanted to see, and stocks are slightly higher Friday afternoon. Energy companies are bouncing back along with oil prices. IBM is slumping after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said that he sold a large part of his stake in the company.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 2 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,392 as of 12:20 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,940 because of IBM’s loss. The Nasdaq composite rose 6 points, or 0.1 percent, to 6,081. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,389.

JOBS: Employers in the United States added 211,000 jobs in April, according to the Labor Department. That was a relief to investors who were concerned about slower hiring and economic growth over the first three months of the year. The VIX, an index that is interpreted as a measure of how nervous investors are, slipped. On Monday the index hit a 10-year low.

THE QUOTE: Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo’s Investment Institute, said the April report was the latest in a long run of solid but mostly unexciting jobs reports. While many investors want to see stronger wage growth along with continued hiring, Wren said that rising wages may cause trouble for the stock market if economic growth remains slow: higher pay and limited growth could squeeze company profits.

“The market is likely to be concerned about wage gains and the impact on corporate margins as we move into 2018,” he said.

CRUDE CONCERNS: Energy companies bounced back as the price of oil steadied. After steep losses the last two days, benchmark U.S. crude oil jumped 74 cents, or 1.6 percent, to $46.26 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, added 60 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $48.98 barrel in London. Oil prices have fallen hard as investors wonder if OPEC will extend a deal that trimmed oil production.

Occidental Petroleum rose $1.59, or 2.6 percent, to $59.61, and ConocoPhillips gained 48 cents, or 1 percent, to $46.40.

IBM GETS BUFFET-TED: IBM fell after Warren Buffett said he’s sold about 25 million shares of the technology and consulting company, about a third of the stake that his Berkshire Hathaway company had owned. Buffett started buying IBM stock in 2011. IBM faces stiff competition from companies including Microsoft and Amazon, which have focused on cloud-computing services. IBM reached an all-time high of $215 in early 2013. It fell $3.94, or 2.5 percent, to $155.11 Friday. About a year ago the stock was worth less than $120 a share.

BLEMISHED: Cosmetics maker Revlon plunged after its sales in North America fell during the first quarter. That affected all parts of its business, as its consumer and professional divisions both reported smaller profits and lower sales than they did a year ago. Revlon bought Elizabeth Arden in September and its sales were about the same as they had been a year ago. The stock gave up $5.25, or 20.8 percent, to $20.

MATERIAL MOVEMENT: Basic materials makers advanced. Dow Chemical gained $1.48, or 2.4 percent, to $62.90, and Praxair rose $2.84, or 2.2 percent, to $129.16. Fertilizer maker CF Industries climbed $1.19, or 4.4 percent, to $28.26.

HEALTH CARE SLUMP: Biotech drug companies slipped. Incyte sank $3.70, or 3 percent, to $121.30, and Biogen dropped $6.41, or 2.4 percent, to $262.19. Amgen fell $1.63, or 1 percent, to $162.66.

BONDS: Bond prices edged lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.36 percent from 2.35 percent. High-dividend stocks did fairly well Friday morning as telecommunications companies recovered from a hard loss the day before, and utility companies also rose. Banks traded lower.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.64 yen from 112.42 yen. The euro climbed $1.0997 from $1.0981.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 jumped another 1.1 percent as investors hoped centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron will be elected president over the weekend. The CAC 40 is at its highest level since early 2008. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.7 percent, and Germany’s DAX added 0.5 percent. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8 percent. Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed for holidays.

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