• The Star Staff

Wall Street hits highs as slowing job growth spurs stimulus bets

Wall Street’s main indexes rose to all-time highs on Friday as data showing the slowest U.S. jobs growth in six months raised investors’ expectations for a new fiscal relief bill to help revive the coronavirus-hit economy.


So-called “cyclical” stocks seen as particularly sensitive to the economy, such as energy, materials and industrials, shined as most S&P 500 sectors rose.


The Labor Department’s closely watched report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 245,000 jobs in November, below economists’ expectations of 469,000 jobs and the smallest gain since the labor recovery started in May.


President-elect Joe Biden said Friday’s “grim” jobs report shows the economic recovery is stalling and warned the “dark winter” ahead would exacerbate the pain unless the U.S. Congress passes a coronavirus relief bill immediately.


“The bad news of the weakening jobs picture is potentially good news for investors because it means that the stimulus bill is much more likely to take place in a fairly short time frame,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial in North Carolina.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 248.74 points, or 0.83%, to 30,218.26, the S&P 500 gained 32.40 points, or 0.88%, to 3,699.12 and the Nasdaq Composite added 87.05 points, or 0.7%, to 12,464.23.


The Dow Jones Transportation Average and the small-cap Russell 2000 also posted record closing highs.


The benchmark 10-year yield hit its highest level since March at over 0.98%, helping support financial shares which are highly sensitive to interest rates.


The energy sector jumped 5.4%, bolstered by gains in oil prices. Shares of Diamondback Energy Inc surged 12.7% and Occidental Petroleum gained 13.4%.


“There is just a lot of catch-up happening with those sectors and sub-sectors that have really struggled year to date,” said Eric Freedman, chief investment officer at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.


Utilities lagged the most among major sectors, falling 1%.


Positive coronavirus vaccine updates from drugmakers have raised investor hopes for an economic recovery next year and overshadowed worries over a surge in U.S. infections, helping the major indexes to another week of gains after the benchmark S&P 500 surged over 10% in November.


In company news, Boeing shares fell 1.9% as a top company executive said the company is reducing production of its 787 Dreamliner for the fourth time in 18 months.

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