Wall Street waits as Fed moves may push interest rates
U.S. stocks edged up on as expectations that the Federal Reserve will push any interest rate increases further into the year offset concerns over faltering economic growth spurred by a surprisingly weak jobs report.
Labor Department data showed U.S. employers last month added the fewest jobs in more than a year. The rise of 126,000 jobs was well below economists’ expectations for 245,000. The U.S. stock market was closed in observance of Good Friday when the data was released.
On Monday, ISM data showed the pace of growth in the U.S. services sector fell in March to its lowest level in three months while a measure from Markit showed the sector expanded in March at its fastest pace since August.
Investors are concerned that a series of soft economic data, including jobs, factory activity and consumer spending, may point to more than a weather-related slowdown and could indicate a loss of momentum in the U.S. economy.
However, the weak data eased some concerns over the U.S. dollar continuing to strengthen and pressure the earnings of companies with international exposure. It also pushed expectations of a rate hike from the Federal Reserve further down the road.
“The market seems to be very confused whether bad or good news is good news,” said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
He said investors were “unsure about whether we should be excited on bad news because the Fed will not raise rates, or if we should be seeing a stronger economy.”
As corporate results take center stage, he said uncertainty over what to make of the data could dissipate, setting the stage for a new challenge of the record highs set last month.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 91.76 points, or 0.52 percent, to 17,855, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 11.44 points, or 0.55 percent, to 2,078.4 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 22.20 points, or 0.45 percent, to 4,909.14.
Utilities .SPLRCU, preferred by safety-seeking investors when Treasury yields fall, were the best performer of the 10 S&P 500 sectors. Energy .SPNY followed, helped by a pop up in crude oil futures after Saudi Arabia raised its price for sales to Asia.
U.S.-listed shares of Amsterdam-based Uniqure (QURE.O) jumped 45.1 percent to $33.17 after a deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb to develop gene therapies for cardiovascular diseases.
Tesla Motors (TSLA.O) added 8.1 percent to $206.50 after it reported a 55 percent increase in deliveries in the first quarter.
Qualcomm shares (QCOM.O) fell 1.2 percent to $67.18 after a teardown of the Galaxy S6 showed Samsung used more of its own chips in its new smartphone, in a blow to Qualcomm.
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