| 25 February 2024, Sunday |

Tech takes Wall St higher as jobs report calms inflation fears

On Friday, U.S. markets rose, led by technology firms, as a weak monthly jobs report eased investor concerns that the Federal Reserve would soon begin to reduce monetary assistance.

Employers in the United States expanded hiring and hiked wages in May as they competed for workers. However, the growth in nonfarm payrolls of 559,000 jobs fell short of the 650,000 predicted by experts polled by Reuters.

Investors were concerned that a strong jobs report, which hinted to increasing inflation, might force the Federal Reserve to reduce the stimulus it had implemented during the pandemic.

“It keeps pressure off the Fed and will enable them to keep their low interest rate policy in place longer and take more of a wait-and-see attitude,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management. “The opportunity to keep rates low is good news for risk takers.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 149.58 points, or 0.43%, to 34,726.62, the S&P 500 gained 34.78 points, or 0.83%, to 4,227.63 and the Nasdaq Composite added 203.63 points, or 1.5%, to 13,818.13.

The heavyweight S&P 500 tech sector was the best-performing group, rising 2.0%, as longer-dated U.S. Treasury yields fell.

Tech and other growth stocks are seen as particularly vulnerable if inflation drives up bond yields and more heavily discounts the value of future cash flows. The Russell 1000 growth index was up 1.4% against a 0.3% rise for the counterpart Russell value index, as the financials sector, a key value group, was logging a slim loss.

Overall, the S&P 500 is up over 12% this year, near record high levels.

The wild rides for so-called “meme stocks” drew the attention of investors, with AMC Entertainment Holdings’ stock little altered but on track to nearly quadruple for the week.

Pershing Square Tontine Holdings, owned by billionaire William Ackman, fell 14.0 percent when it was revealed that it was in talks to buy 10% of Universal Music Group.

Investors were keeping a close eye on the anticipated infrastructure expenditure in the United States. On Friday, President Joe Biden met with the chief Republican negotiator in an attempt to reach an agreement that will please their severely split camps.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.56-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.48-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 51 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 98 new highs and 14 new lows.

  • Reuters