Wall St. Higher as Investors Shrug Off Weak December Jobs Data

(Reuters) —
U.S., Stock Indexes, stocks, markets, wall Street
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Wall Street’s major indexes rose to record highs on Friday after weaker-than-expected U.S. job additions in December lifted hopes that the Federal Reserve would stick to its policy of gradual interest-rate hikes in 2018.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, much lower than economists’ expectation of 190,000.

However, the data pointed to a pick-up in monthly wage gains.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent in December after gaining 0.1 percent in the prior month. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent in November.

“The market is shrugging it off because it’s not weak enough to detract the Fed from raising rates further. The modest rise in average hourly wage number should give the Fed some breathing room,” said Bryce Doty, senior portfolio manager at SIT Fixed Income Advisors LLC, Minneapolis.

The odds of a March rate hike stood at 67.5 percent, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool, nearly unchanged from before the release of the jobs report.

Wall Street has started 2018 on a strong note, continuing the momentum from 2017.

The S&P and the Nasdaq were on track to post their biggest weekly gains since Dec. 2016, and the Dow was set for its best weekly performance in a month.

At 10:46 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 46.83 points, or 0.19 percent, at 25,121.96.

The S&P 500 was up 6.26 points, or 0.23 percent, at 2,730.25, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 34.07 points, or 0.48 percent, at 7,111.99.

Among the 11 major S&P sectors, energy was the biggest decliner, down 0.81 percent as oil prices pulled away from their 2015 highs on soaring U.S. production.

Exxon fell 1.3 percent and Chevron 0.8 percent; those were the biggest drags in the sector.

The technology index’s 0.77-percent gain led the advancers, on track to post its best weekly gains since Dec. 2016

A more-than-1-percent rise in Microsoft, Apple and Google-parent Alphabet boosted the sector.

Francesca’s Holdings tanked 20 percent after the women’s apparel and accessories maker said it expected up to a 17-percent decline in current-quarter same-store sales.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,472 to 1,231. On the Nasdaq, 1,672 issues rose and 1,082 fell.

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