Wall St Higher Despite Weak December Hiring Data

FILE PHOTO: The trading floor is seen on the final day of trading for the year at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York, U.S., December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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Wall Street’s main indexes rose on Friday as investors looked beyond weaker-than-expected U.S. job additions in December and took support from signs of a pick-up in wage growth.

FILE PHOTO: The trading floor is seen on the final day of trading for the year at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York, U.S., December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, while economists had forecast a rise of 190,000.

Stock futures pared gains briefly after the report, which was also in sharp contrast to Thursday’s data that showed private employers added a stronger-than-expected 250,000 jobs in December.

Monthly wage gains was a bright spot that pointed to labor market strength and could strengthen the chances of the Federal Reserve increasing interest rates in March.

The odds of a March rate hike stood at 67.5 percent, according to CME Group’s Fedwatch tool, nearly unchanged from before the release of the report.

Average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent in December after gaining 0.1 percent in the prior month. That lifted the annual increase in wages to 2.5 percent from 2.4 percent in November.

“It’s a really weak number, surprising given how strong ADP was on Wednesday. However, it’s only one month. People usually look at the three-month average as it’s usually a better gauge,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer of Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The market will probably overlook this for now. I would look next month for confirmation if it’s a trend.”

At 9:40 a.m. ET (1540 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was up 46.05 points, or 0.18 percent, at 25,121.18. The blue-chip index closed above 25,000 for the first time on Thursday, its quickest 5,000-point climb since the index was created in 1896.

The S&P 500 .SPX was up 4.85 points, or 0.18 percent, at 2,728.84 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 23.43 points, or 0.33 percent, at 7,101.34.

Dow Jones & Company Inc

Among the 11 major S&P sectors, energy .SPNY was the biggest decliner, down 0.37 percent as oil prices pulled away from their 2015 highs on soaring U.S. production. [O/R]

Chevron (CVX.N) and Exxon (XOM.N) fell 0.4 percent, weighing on the sector.

The S&P technology index .SPLRCT rose 0.55 percent, leading the gainers.

Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) 1 percent rise and Apple’s (AAPL.O) 0.6 percent gain boosted the sector. Cisco (CSCO.O) rose 1.33 percent after BofA Merrill Lynch brokers upgraded the stock to “buy”.

Francesca’s Holdings (FRAN.O) tanked 16.5 percent after the women’s apparel and accessories maker said it expected up to 17 percent decline in current-quarter same-store sales.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,577 to 982. On the Nasdaq, 1,486 issues rose and 909 fell.

Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila




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