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Stocks jump after strong jobs report

U.S. stocks advanced following the release of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ April jobs report, which pointed to ongoing strength in the U.S. labor market.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) rose 0.96%, or 28.05 points, as of market close, with tech shares leading advances. The Dow (^DJI) rose 0.75%, or 196.95 points. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) increased 1.58%, or 127.22 points, as shares of Amazon (AMZN) advanced more than 3% after Warren Buffett said Berkshire Hathaway had invested in the internet giant for the first time.

The economy added 263,000 non-farm payrolls for the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. This topped expectations for 190,000 new positions, based on consensus estimates compiled by Bloomberg. March’s payroll additions were downwardly revised to 189,000, from 196,000 previously.

The unemployment rate fell to 3.6% for the month, a 49-year low. Consensus economists had anticipated that unemployment would hold at March’s 3.8% rate.

Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate fell slightly from the month prior to 62.8%, but was unchanged from the year prior. The broad U-6 gauge of unemployment – which captures the underemployed as well as those who have ceased looking for jobs and – held at 7.3%, the same level seen in both February and March.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.2% month-over-month and 3.2% year-over-year, the same paces seen in March. Consensus economists had anticipated hourly wages to increase 0.3% on a monthly basis and 3.3% on an annual basis.

The latest jobs report comes after the U.S. economy was shown last week to have grown at a much better-than-expected 3.2% rate in the first quarter, stamping out concerns over a domestic slowdown that dominated sentiment during the early months of the year. But amid persistently below-target inflationary signals, the economy still shows few signs of “overheating,” Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said during a press conference Wednesday.

On Friday, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Richard Clarida reiterated the strength of U.S. economic activity, saying the U.S. economy is in a “very good place” and “operating at or very close to the Fed’s dual-mandate objective” of hitting maximum employment and inflation near 2%.

2019 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting

For the stock market, a packed docket of corporate earnings reports over the past several weeks have provided a hefty dose of stimulus, with many results coming in much stronger-than-expected.

As of Friday morning, companies comprising more than 80% of the S&P 500’s market capitalization had reported first-quarter results, with earnings beating by 6.8%, and nearly three-quarters of companies exceeding their bottom-line expectations, according to an analysis by Credit Suisse’s Jonathan Golub. This compares to 5.4% and 71% over the past three years.

The better-than-expected earnings results have contributed to the stock market’s more than 16% year-to-date gain, as investors were broadly expecting a year-over-year earnings decline of 3.9% for companies in the S&P 500 heading into first-quarter earnings season, according to FactSet data. As of Friday, consensus expectations are anticipating a year-over-year earnings decline of just 0.2%, Golub wrote.


The U.S. trade deficit in goods widened in March to $71.4 billion, from $70.9 billion in February, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Friday. However, this was still narrower than the $73 billion goods deficit consensus economists were expecting, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Exports of goods rose by $1.4 billion from February to $140.3 billion, while imports of goods rose by $2 billion to $211.7 billion.

Wholesale inventories in March were flat month-over-month, below expectations for a 0.2% increase, according to the Census Bureau’s preliminary report. Meanwhile, advance retail inventories unexpectedly fell 0.3% for the month, below a 0.1% increase expected and February’s 0.2% gain.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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