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Stocks close higher after softer-than-expected jobs report fuels hopes of an earlier rate cut

<i>Spencer Platt/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>
Spencer Platt/Getty Images via CNN Newsource

By Nicole Goodkind, CNN

New York (CNN) — US stocks soared Friday after new data showed that US job growth slowed considerably last month.

After surging by more than 500 points after the opening bell, the blue-chip Dow closed 450 points higher, or 1.2%; the S&P 500 rose 1.3% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 2%.

The economy added just 175,000 new jobs in April, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, far below economists’ expectations for 235,000 jobs and the 315,000 jobs added in March. The unemployment rate ticked higher as well, to 3.9% from 3.8% the month before.

While that’s bad news for Main Street, Wall Street celebrated.

That’s because the Federal Reserve is working to slow the economy by hiking interest rates — the only tool it has to fight inflation. A still-robust job market means the central bank could continue to keep rates elevated without fear of sending the economy into a recession. If the labor market weakens, the Fed is more likely to consider a rate cut.

Friday’s employment data “was a big sigh of relief for markets, with a softer job market and importantly a softer average hourly earnings readout,” wrote Matt Peron, global head of solutions at Janus Henderson Investors, in a note on Friday. “Taken together, this should give markets some hope that inflation is not as sticky as feared and raises the possibility of getting back on the disinflation trend we saw last year.”

Investors have already increased their expectations for more interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. They’re now anticipating a nearly 75% chance that there will be at least one rate cut after the central bank’s September meeting, according to the CME FedWatch tool. That’s up from about 62% just one day ago.

Treasury yields also snapped lower on the news. The 10-year yield fell to 4.5% as of 3 pm ET, according to Tradeweb. Treasury yields and prices are inversely related.

At a press conference following Wednesday’s Fed policy decision to keep interest rates the same, Chair Jerome Powell said that the central bank would act if there was a sudden drop in employment.

“We’re also prepared to respond to an unexpected weakening in the labor market,” he said.

In earnings news, shares of Apple rose 6% after the company reported strong earnings for the first quarter of 2024 on Thursday evening. The iPhone maker also said it expected to beat sales estimates for the year.

As stocks settle after the trading day, levels might change slightly.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Business/Consumer

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