Wall St edges up as payrolls report keeps Fed on track

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, US, March 30, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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  • Unemployment drops to 3.6% vs estimate of 3.7%
  • Nonfarm payrolls rose by 431,000 jobs last month
  • GameStop seeks share split amid renewed meme-stock hype
  • Dow up 0.29%, S&P 500 up 0.10%, Nasdaq down 0.05%

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) – US stocks rose modestly to kick off the second quarter on Friday, as the monthly jobs report indicated a strong labor market and is likely to keep the Federal Reserve on track to maintain its hawkish policy stance.

The Labor Department’s employment report showed a rapid hiring pace by employers while wages continued to climb, although not enough to keep pace with inflation. read more

US employers added 431,000 jobs in March, which was shy of the 490,000 estimate but still showed strong job gains. The unemployment rate dropped to 3.6%, a new two-year low while average hourly earnings rose 5.6% on a year-over-year basis. read more

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nonfarm payrolls

The report heightened expectations that the central bank is likely to become more aggressive in raising interest rates as it seeks to curb inflation as it unwinds its easy monetary policy. read more

“Job gains were broad, more people are going back to the office,” said Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Allspring Global Investments in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

“If other data between now and the next Fed meeting stay this rosy the Fed will likely feel comfortable hiking by 50 basis points and announcing an aggressive rundown of its balance sheet.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) rose 101.13 points, or 0.29%, to 34,779.48, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 4.65 points, or 0.10%, to 4,535.06 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 7.58 points, or 0.05%, to 14,212.94.

Expectations for a 50-basis point interest rate hike at the central bank’s May meeting stand at 71.1%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool. At its March meeting, the Fed rates raised by 25 basis 25 basis points, its first hike since 2018, and a host of central bank policymakers have indicated they are prepared for bigger rate hikes.

Chicago Federal Reserve President Charles Evans said on Friday he does not see a big risk in using “some” half-point rate hikes to bring borrowing costs to neutral sooner as long as the objective was not to raise rates much faster and push them higher.

Other data on Friday showed US manufacturing activity unexpectedly slowed in March, although it remained firmly in expansion territory, the tight supply chains continued to put upward pressure on input prices. read more

In the wake of the payrolls report, US Treasury yields jumped and a closely watched part of the yield curve between two-year and 10-year notes, seen by many as a reliable indicator of a recession, reversed for the third time this week.

The S&P 500 closed out the first quarter on Thursday with its biggest quarterly decline since the COVID-19 pandemic in the US was reaching full swing on concerns about rising prices, fueled further by the war in Ukraine, and the Fed’s response could slow economic growth . However, stocks rebounded somewhat in March, as the benchmark index gained 3.6%.

Video game retailer GameStop Corp (GME.N), part of the “em stock” trading frenzy last year, gave up early gains and was last down 1.47% after announcing a plan to seek shareholder approval for a stock split. read more

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) fell 0.78% after JP Morgan removed the stock from its analyst “focus list” along with Qualcomm (QCOM.O), which slumped 5.12%. read more

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.46-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, the 1.27-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and seven new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 54 new highs and 101 new lows.

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Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak Editing by Marguerita Choy

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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