December 5, 2023

Stocks & Bonds: Shares Rise on Report Of Jobs Growth

The Labor Department report said 216,000 jobs were added in March, and that the unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent.

The report beat forecasts and fueled hopes that hiring was on an upward trend. However, some noted that wages were flat.

Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for Miller, Tabak and Company, said an environment of slow job creation and weak wage growth coupled with rising prices for gasoline and food was not good for consumers but “unquestionably a positive for corporate profits and margins.”

“Consumers may be getting the short end of the stick, but companies are certainly not going to complain in an environment in which prices are going up and labor costs are flat,” Mr. Greenhaus said.

Corporate profits, economic statistics and mergers have contributed to market movements in recent weeks, although global events, like the turmoil in Arab oil countries, the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, and concerns about sovereign debt in the euro zone have also had an impact.

On Friday, William C. Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said events in Japan and the Middle East could worsen, and he emphasized that the economic recovery was “still tenuous,” even though economic conditions have improved.

Mr. Dudley singled out manufacturing in a speech that included remarks on the jobs report.

“Particularly encouraging is the growth of manufacturing jobs,” he said. “Over the past year we have added factory jobs at the fastest pace since the 1990s.”

The Institute for Supply Management said on Friday that its index for March fell slightly, to 61.2 from 61.4 in February. Any value above 50 indicates growth in manufacturing.

Daniel J. Meckstroth, the chief economist for the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, said the government report on jobs on Friday reflected the institute’s trend in the manufacturing sector, which added 17,000 jobs in March.

On Friday, the first day of the second quarter, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 56.99 points, or 0.46 percent, at 12,376.72. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index rose 6.58 points, or 0.50 percent, to 1,332.41. The Nasdaq composite index rose 8.53 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,789.60.

The Dow was up 1.2 percent in the week, while the S. P. was up 1.4 percent and the Nasdaq rose 1.6 percent in that period.

Consumer discretionary, financial and industrial stocks ended the week with gains of less than 1 percent, while energy stocks rose slightly with oil prices.

Benchmark crude oil for May delivery rose to $107.94 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Caterpillar rose more than 1.5 percent to $113.12, and General Electric was up more than 1.45 percent at $20.34. The Nasdaq OMX Group and IntercontinentalExchange on Friday made a hostile bid for NYSE Euronext, offering $42.50 a share in cash and stock in a deal that is valued at $11.3 billion.

NYSE Euronext rose 12.6 percent to $39.60 and Nasdaq OMX was up 9.25 percent at $28.23; Intercontinental fell more than 3 percent to $119.75.

Information technology and telecommunications stocks declined slightly.

Economic data on construction was also released on Friday. In a sign that the housing sector remains under pressure, building slowed in February compared with January, according to the Commerce Department. Construction outlays fell 1.4 percent in February from a revised 1.8 percent in January, it said, led by a 3.7 percent drop in private residential outlays.

Severe weather could have been a factor, an economist said.

“This sector is still fantastically depressed,” Ian C. Shepherdson, the chief United States economist for High Frequency Economics, said.

Interest rates were steady. The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note rose 5/32, to 101 16/32, and the yield slipped to 3.44 percent from 3.46 percent late Thursday.

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