(Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Friday after data showed U.S. employment in March accelerated from a 17-month low, easing concerns of a domestic slowdown, while hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal added to the sentiment.
The Labor Department report showed nonfarm payrolls rose by 196,000 jobs last month, above economists’ estimate of 180,000, as milder weather boosted hiring in sectors like construction.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in March, after jumping 0.4% percent in the previous month, while the unemployment rate held steady at 3.8%.
The report adds to fairly upbeat construction spending and factory numbers that led Wall Street banks to boost their growth estimates for the first quarter.
“A mixed but overall very solid jobs report. The healthy bounce back in hiring last month should help to quell recession fears,” said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions in Washington.
“Still, weaker wage growth suggests the Fed’s December rate hike may have been its last in the current cycle.”
The Federal Reserve last month suspended its three-year campaign to tighten monetary policy, increasing market expectations of an interest rate cut.
However, the latest job numbers gave traders little reason to reprice expectations for a rate cut in 2020.
Bank stocks, which tend to benefit from a rising interest-rate environment, dipped 0.1%.
The markets were also helped by President Donald Trump’s comments that the U.S. and China were close to a trade deal that could be announced within four weeks, potentially easing concerns about a months-long tariff war that has clouded global growth.
Trade hopes and a dovish Fed have helped push the S&P 500 to its highest since Oct. 9, putting the index 1.8% away from an all-time high of 2,940.91 points.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the index could scale new highs above 3,000 in the second quarter, fueled by gains in bank and oil stocks, before peaking out.
At 9:49 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 58.27 points, or 0.22%, at 26,442.90, the S&P 500 was up 7.53 points, or 0.26%, at 2,886.92 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 26.44 points, or 0.34%, at 7,918.22.
Of the 11 major S&P sectors, nine were trading higher, with a 0.3% rise in technology stocks leading gains.
Heavyweights Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp helped support the tech sector.
However, capping gains among Dow Industrials was Dow Inc, which dropped 2.5% after J.P. Morgan started coverage on the company, which was spun-off from DowDuPont Inc, with an “underweight” rating.
Intel Corp slipped 1.6% after Wells Fargo downgraded the chipmaker’s stock to “market perform” from “outperform”.
Viacom Inc rose 2.1% after RBC Capital Markets upgraded the company to “outperform”.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.21-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.10-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 40 new highs and eight new lows.
Reporting by Sruthi Shankar and Shreyashi Sanyal in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta
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