Stocks Rebound to Post Small Gain for the Week
As comebacks go, this one was a couple of days in the making.
On Friday, the U.S. stock market rebounded from a deep slump earlier in the week to muster the first positive five-day stretch after three weeks of declines.
The day’s modest gains added to a strong finish for stocks a day earlier, enough for the Dow Jones industrial average to eke out a 0.6 percent gain for the week, while the S&P 500 index finished up 0.8 percent. Both are still down for the year.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 165.55 points, or 1.1 percent, to 15,794.08. The Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 23.59 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,797.02. The Nasdaq composite increased 68.74 points, or 1.7 percent, to 4,125.86.
Expedia led the gains in the S&P 500 index, surging 14 percent after reporting that its profit and revenue jumped as hotel bookings increased.
Friday’s rally didn’t seem likely to happen as the day got going.
A widely anticipated jobs report from the Labor Department showed U.S. employers added 113,000 jobs last month, less than the average monthly gain of 194,000 in 2013. This followed December’s tepid increase of just 75,000.
The overall payroll figure disappointed markets, and index futures fell before regular stock trading began. Stocks moved higher in mid-morning trading as investors dug deeper into the details of the report, which also showed that manufacturers, construction firms and mining and drilling companies added 76,000 jobs combined, a strong showing.
“The market had a tough time figuring out what to do with the (jobs) number when it first came out,” said J.J. Kinahan, chief strategist with TD Ameritrade.
“As the day went on, it just kind of discounted some of the negatives in there to say, ‘What do we really want? We want a growing economy, and these are the jobs we got for a growing economy.”
The government also reported that the nation’s unemployment rate dipped to 6.6 percent in January from 6.7 percent in December. It was the lowest rate since October 2008.
The market dug itself a hole at the start of the week, plunging more than 2 percent on Monday. The slide began with investor anxiety over an industry survey that found that manufacturing grew much more slowly in January than in December. Lackluster U.S. auto sales for January added to the bad news.
The outlook began to brighten at midweek, with a survey of private businesses that showed companies added 175,000 jobs in January, roughly in line with average monthly gains the past two years. On Thursday, news that fewer people applied for unemployment benefits last week helped lift the market.
The Dow is still down 4.7 percent for the year, while the S&P 500 is down 2.8 percent.
Did the government’s latest survey of the job market give investors reason to feel better about the economy? Opinions were mixed on Wall Street.
“It appears we sort of found our sea legs here in the middle of the week and we’re starting to rally back into a more normal valuation pattern,” said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors.
Others saw the potential for more turbulence.
“This is sort of the new market we live in,” Kinahan said. “There are going to be gyrations where we’re higher, we’re lower, some quick corrections, some quick rallies. This is going to set a tone for the first half of the year.”
Investors will have no shortage of potentially market-moving news to watch out for in the coming weeks.
The bulk of the latest quarterly earnings cycle is over, but the markets will be watching how Washington grapples with another debt ceiling deadline, and how quickly the Federal Reserve moves to reduce its monthly bond purchases.
On Friday, the market’s gains were broad. All 10 sectors in the S&P 500 index moved higher, led by industrial and health care stocks. Three stocks rose for every one that fell.
It was a good day for some travel stocks. Expedia soared $9.31, or 14.3 percent, to $74.45, while TripAdvisor leapt $7.31, or 9.5 percent, to $84.45. Among the stocks that ended with sizable gains Friday were publishing company News Corp., which rose $1.39, or 8.7 percent, to $17.41. The Gap also added $2.29, or 5.8 percent, to $42.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged down to 2.69 percent from 2.70 percent as investors moved money into bonds. It slid as low as 2.63 percent shortly after the jobs report came out at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
The yield, which affects rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, had been edging higher after falling to 2.58 percent on Monday, the lowest level in more than two months.