U.S. stocks closed higher Friday, amid gains in oil prices, after the headline figure in the April employment report missed expectations.
The major averages reclaimed opening losses to close near session highs, with the Dow Jones industrial average up nearly 80 points and the S&P 500 up slightly as materials led most sectors higher while utilities lagged. ( Tweet This )
However, both indexes posted slight weekly declines for their first two-week losing streak since the one ended Feb. 12. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.8 percent for the week for its first three-week losing streak since the one ended Jan. 15.
“Basically the market was oversold, due for a bounce,” said Lance Roberts, chief investment strategist at Clarity Financial.
“You’ve got oil prices rallying. You’ve got the Fed on hold with the data as weak as it is,” he said, noting he doesn’t expect the U.S. central bank to raise rates until next year.
New York Fed President William C. Dudley said in a New York Timesarticle Friday the jobs report was perhaps softer than expectations but gave it little weight in affecting his economic outlook. He added in the piece that two hikes this year remained a “reasonable expectation.”
“Today’s report was kind of a fun one for a few minutes and after that the excitement dissipated,” said Todd Hedtke, chief investment officer at Allianz Investment Management (AIM) US.
The U.S. dollar index initially extended losses after the jobs report, before holding mildly higher in afternoon trade. The euro was last near $1.14 and the yen at 107.09 yen against the greenback. The dollar index gained 0.8 percent for the week, its best week in more than a month.
U.S. crude oil futures settled up 34 cents, or 0.77 percent, at $44.66 a barrel, but down 2.7 percent for the week, ending a four-week win streak. The weekly oil rig count fell by 4 for a decline of 340 rigs year-over-year, according to Baker Hughes.
“The two variables that really disappointed the U.S. equity market where the dollar and oil. The year-over-year comparisons which led to the earnings recession in the U.S. are going to be rolling out of the market soon,” said Joe Seydl, economist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
The S&P 500 held higher for the year so far after briefly erasing gains for 2016. Both the Dow and S&P ended the week within 4 percent of their 52-week intraday highs.
The Nasdaq composite ended about 9.5 percent below its 52-week intraday high set last July. Intraday, the index fell more than 10 percent from that high, or about 5 percent off a recent high touched in April.
The iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) closed 1.5 percent lower.
Treasury yields held higher in afternoon trade, with the 2-year yield around 0.73 percent after initially falling below 0.7 percent to its lowest since Feb. 12. The 10-year yield was higher near 1.78 percent after briefly falling to 1.705 percent, its lowest since April 11.
“I think the bottom line is this report is kind of a shoulder-shrug, not something that’s going to get the Fed’s attention in any meaningful way,” said Gene Tannuzzo, senior portfolio manager of Columbia Threadneedle’s Strategic Income Fund.
“If anything is going to get the Fed’s attention it’s the average hourly earnings is going to creep up a bit,” he said.
The April nonfarm payrolls report showed creation of 160,000 jobs, well below expectations of more than 200,000 jobs. Unemployment came in at 5 percent, as expected, while average hourly wages for the month rose 0.3 percent, also in-line with expectations. The labor force participation rate fell to 62.8 percent.
“The payroll report was disappointing but what it does is raises concerns with negative corporate earnings whether companies will continue to hire,” said Douglas Cote, chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management.
Stocks opened lower and struggled for gains before holding higher as the close approached.
“It is once again one of those mixed data points. Even though this is one data point, … it has at least three interpretations,” said Tara Sinclair, chief economist at Indeed.
“I think it’s more of the same in a lot of senses. We’d like better, but at the same time wages are better,” she said.
“I think the clear message that comes out of it for me is the report is bad for risk if we get weak data … from the U.S.,” said Lee Ferridge, head of macro strategy, North America, State Street Global Markets.
“My fear is that more disappointing payrolls is going to become the norm. If payroll growth slows we’re not going to get a pickup in wages,” he said.
European stocks closed mixed, with the German DAX outperforming with mild gains. For the week, the major indexes lost more than 1.5 percent and the STOXX Europe 600 Banks index fell 6.5 percent for the week, its worst since early January.
Asian stocks closed lower, with the Shanghai composite falling 2.8 percent and the Nikkei 225 off 0.25 percent.
The Shanghai composite lost nearly 0.9 percent for its first three-week losing streak since the one ended in mid-January.
The S&P 500 closed up 6.51 points, or 0.32 percent, at 2,057.14, with utilities leading three sectors lower and materials the top advancer.
The index lost 0.40 percent for the week, with energy the worst performer and consumer staples the best.
The SPDR Banks (KBE) closed higher on the day but fell nearly 3.8 percent for the week, its worst since mid-January.
The Nasdaq composite closed up 19.06 points, or 0.40 percent, at 4,736.16.
The Nasdaq lost 0.82 percent for the week.
The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, fell below 15.
About two stocks advanced for every decliner on the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 955 million and a composite volume of 3.7 billion in the close.
High-frequency trading accounted for 49 percent of May’s daily trading volume of about 7.52 billion shares, according to TABB Group. During the peak levels of high-frequency trading in 2009, about 61 percent of 9.8 billion of average daily shares traded were executed by high-frequency traders.
Gold futures for June delivery settled up $21.70 at $1,294.00 an ounce. Gold gained nearly 0.3 percent for the week, its second-straight week of gains.