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Stock market today: Wall Street finds things to like in nuanced jobs report and swings to

STAN CHOE, Associated Press

FILE – Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is climbing in a whipsaw Friday after looking deeper into the nuances of a surprisingly strong report on the U.S. job market.

The S&P 500 was up 0.9% in midday trading after erasing an earlier drop of 0.9%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 255 points, or 0.8%, as of 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, and the Nasdaq composite flipped to a gain of 1.2%.

Stocks initially tumbled after a report showed U.S. employers added nearly twice as many jobs last month as economists expected. The strength raised worries that a too-hot job market could keep upward pressure on inflation, which in turn could force the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates higher than investors want.

Treasury yields leaped following the release of the report, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury again soared to its highest level since 2007. It was at 4.78%, up from 4.72% late Thursday.

Wall Street hates high interest rates because they knock down prices for all kinds of investments. And even though the job market hasn’t faltered yet, despite the Fed pulling its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001, high rates work to extinguish high inflation by slowing the entire economy. That raises the risk of a recession down the road.

But Treasury yields pared their gains as the morning progressed, particularly shorter-term ones, as economists pointed to some more encouraging data within the jobs report.

The two-year Treasury yield more closely tracks expectations for action by the Fed, and it quickly soared from 5.04% just before the release of the jobs report to 5.20% shortly afterward. It then pulled back to 5.06%.

Among the potentially encouraging signals for the Fed: Workers’ average wages rose at a slower rate in September than economists expected. While that’s discouraging for workers trying to keep up with inflation, it could remove some encouragement for companies to keep raising prices for their products.

The Fed should be focusing on such moderate wage gains, rather than the growth in jobs, said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management.

“The labor market isn’t overheating, it’s still healing,” he said.

Average hourly earnings rose at the slowest rate, on a year-over-year basis, since June 2021.

“Like most reports, Fed will find things to like and dislike here,” according to Andrew Patterson, senior economist at Vanguard.

That raises the stakes for upcoming reports next week on inflation at both the consumer and wholesale levels. They’re the next huge data points coming before the Fed makes its next announcement on interest rates on Nov. 1.

A strong job market also carries some rewards for financial markets, at least in the short term. It means the economy is still doing well despite high rates, which could support corporate profits.

The day’s whiplash for stocks meant the S&P 500 went from a loss of 0.9% to a gain of 1.1% That swing of 2 percentage points is the largest since March, when high interest rates triggered a crisis in the banking industry that sent financial markets around the world into turmoil.

Wall Street’s swings for the day were encapsulated by Levi Strauss, which went from an early loss of 6% to a gain of 1% and back to a loss of 1.5%.

It reported slightly stronger profit for the latest quarter than analysts expected. But its revenue fell short of expectations, and it said it expects earnings for its full fiscal year to fall at the low end of its forecasted range.

Next week will see the unofficial start to earnings reporting season for the S&P 500, with Delta Air Lines, JPMorgan Chase and UnitedHealth Group among the big companies scheduled on the calendar.

Oil prices also swung several times through the day, continuing a choppy stretch. A barrel of benchmark U.S. crude rose 0.8% to $83.00, while Brent crude, the international standard, rose 0.8% to $84.77.

U.S. crude has been generally pulling back after topping $93 per barrel last week. That’s offered some relief on the inflation front after crude had charged higher from $70 in the summer.

In stock markets abroad, indexes were mostly higher across much of Europe and Asia. Japan’s Nikkei 225 was an outlier and slipped 0.3%.


AP Business Writers Yuri Kageyama and Matt Ott contributed.

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