December 8, 2023

Stocks Gain on Jobs Report

The dollar surged against major currencies on signs the troubled United States labor market is recovering.

In the report, the Labor Department said the unemployment rate fell to 8.8 percent, the lowest since March 2009, as companies added workers at the fastest two-month pace since before the recession began. Approximately 216,000 new jobs were added to the economy last month, offsetting layoffs in local governments. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain at 8.9 percent.

Shortly after the opening bell, the Dow Jones industrial rose 75.27 points, or 0.6 percent. The Standard Poor’s 500-stock index gained 9.44 points, or 0.7 percent. The Nasdaq composite index rose 13.06 points, or 0.5 percent.

Oil prices rose after the report on the unemployment rate. Gasoline prices may rise as more workers join the daily commute. Benchmark crude for May delivery added 21 cents to $106.94 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Retail gasoline also jumped overnight, to an average of $3.62 per gallon. Gasoline prices are at the highest levels ever for this time of year.

This is a day heavy with economic data. Later this morning, the Institute of Supply Management will issue its manufacturing index for March. Economists anticipate that the index fell slightly from February, when it hit its highest level since May 2004. The manufacturing sector of the economy has expanded for the past 19 months. Separately, the Commerce Department will issue a report on the construction of new homes in February.

Auto companies will release March sales figures throughout the day. Nasdaq OMX Group and IntercontinentalExchange said early Friday that they were making a bid for NYSE Euronext, offering what they say is a 19 percent premium to the deal the company struck with the operator of the German stock exchange.

The Dow Jones industrial average finished Thursday with its best first-quarter performance since 1999, rising 6.4 percent in the first three months of the year.

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