Solid jobs report, earnings push stocks broadly higher


A solid jobs report and company earnings spurred U.S. stocks broadly higher Friday, driving the S&P 500 to its second straight weekly gain.

The Nasdaq composite hit an all-time high for the second time this week. The benchmark S&P 500 index closed less than 0.1% below the record high it reached on Tuesday.

Technology and consumer-focused companies did the most to push the market higher. Stocks in the communications, industrial, financial and health care sectors also notched solid gains as traders cheered surprisingly good earnings from United States Steel, Weight Watchers and other companies.

Investors also welcomed the government’s latest snapshot of U.S. employment, which showed that job growth surged in April past economists’ forecasts and unemployment fell to a five-decade low.

“Overall, this was a solid report that should assuage fears that the U.S. economy is losing momentum,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

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The S&P 500 index gained 28.12 points, or 1%, to 2,945.64. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 197.16 points, or 0.7%, to 26,504.95. The Nasdaq composite climbed 127.22 points, or 1.6%, to 8,164.

Small-company stocks rose much more than the rest of the market, a bullish sign indicating that investors are more willing to take on risk. The Russell 2000 index picked up 31.37 points, or 2%, to 1,614.02.

Major indexes in Europe also closed higher.

Bond prices rose, sending the yield on the 10 year Treasury down to 2.52% from 2.55% late Thursday.

Despite a modest pullback earlier in the week, U.S. stocks have continued to press higher, extending their impressive recovery this year following a steep slump at the end of 2018.

The S&P 500 is now up 17.5% for the year. The Nasdaq is leading the way, however, with a gain of 23%.

The Federal Reserve fueled the market’s recovery earlier this year when it signaled that it would take a patient approach to raising interest rates. Traders also have been encouraged by positive data on the U.S. economy and better-than-expected corporate earnings.

Corporate earnings for the first quarter have come in mixed so far, but good enough to ease worries that company profits would slump overall.

On Friday, United States Steel surged 17.3% after a sharp increase in sales helped push profit far beyond Wall Street forecasts.

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Newell Brands, which makes Sharpie and Elmer’s products, surged 13.5% on a solid earnings report.

Monster Beverage jumped 8.8% after the energy drinks company powered past analysts’ first quarter profit forecast. The company reported a solid increase in sales of its namesake energy drink that helped drive a surge in profit.

Weight Watchers surged 13% after reporting losses for the first quarter that were much slimmer than expected. The company also raised its profit forecast for the year.

Arista Networks, a cloud computing company, plummeted 10.4% after telling investors that revenue in the current quarter will fall short of forecasts.

Meanwhile, Amazon rose 3.2% after billionaire investor Warren Buffet’s said his company was buying the stock.

Crude oil prices recovered some of their losses from a day earlier. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.2% to settle at $61.94 per barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 0.1% to close at $70.85.

In other commodities trading, wholesale gasoline rose 0.4% to $2.03 per gallon. Heating oil slid 0.4% to $2.07 per gallon. Natural gas dropped 0.8% to $2.57 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold gained 0.7% to $1,281.30 per ounce, silver jumped 2.5% to $14.98 per ounce and copper added 1.4% to $2.82 per pound.

The dollar weakened to 111.09 Japanese yen from 111.50 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1194 from $1.1175.


AP Business Writer Damian J. Troise contributed to this report.

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