Stock Market Shakes Off a Slump To Reach More Record Highs

NEW YORK (AP) – Wall Street notched more milestones Friday as the market largely shrugged off another discouraging jobs report amid expectations that the incoming Biden administration will pump more aid into the pandemic-ravaged economy.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5%, its second straight record high, after bouncing back from a midday slump that knocked it down 0.5%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq composite all closed at new highs.

Technology stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending helped lift the market, outweighing losses in financial, industrial and other sectors. The gains pushed the S&P 500 to its second weekly gain in a row. Treasury yields continued to move higher, fueled by expectations of increased federal borrowing, more stimulus for the economy and the possibility of higher inflation.

The Labor Department said Friday employers cut jobs for the first time since April as the worsening pandemic led more businesses to shut down. But Wall Street remains hopeful that Washington will come through with more badly needed support for American workers and businesses following President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

The S&P 500 rose 20.89 points to 3,824.68. The Dow gained 56.84 points, or 0.2%, to 31,097.97. The Nasdaq climbed 134.50 points, or 1%, to 13,201.98.

The weaker-than-expected report on the jobs market underscored the stakes for the economy, and analysts said it adds more pressure on Congress to act. Employers cut 140,000 more jobs last month than they added, the Labor Department said.

It was the first month of job losses for the economy since April, and it was much a worse reading than the modest growth that economists were expecting to see. Such pressure is rising on economies around the world as the pandemic accelerates.

Treasury yields zigzagged following the release of the jobs report, but they remain on an upward trend. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.12%. That’s up from 1.05% late Thursday and 0.90% early this week.

Stocks of smaller companies fell. The Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks dropped 5.23 points, or 0.2%, to 2,091.66. It ended the week with a 5.9% gain, well ahead of the 1.8% gain for the big stocks in the S&P 500.

Smaller stocks tend to rise and fall more than their bigger rivals with expectations for the economy’s strength. And many investors are expecting Washington to soon try to send bigger cash payments to most Americans, spend more on infrastructure and provide other support for the struggling economy.

Another encouraging thing for many investors is that Democrats will have only a thin majority in the Senate. In the optimistic case for Wall Street, that could give them enough clout to push through more stimulus for the economy but not enough to raise tax rates sharply and toughen up regulations so much that they significantly damage profits for companies.

Financial stocks gave up some big gains from earlier in the week, which were triggered by expectations for a strengthening economy and bigger profits from making loans at higher interest rates. Bank of America fell 1%.

On the other end was Tesla, which rose 7.8% for the biggest gain in the S&P 500. The auto maker surged more than 740% last year. Tesla’s total market value is now the fifth-largest stock in the S&P 500.