BUSINESS US stocks end at records as weak jobs data boost stimulus hopes

BUSINESS

US stocks end at records as weak jobs data boost stimulus hopes

AFP

08:29, May 08, 2021

Wall Street indices ended at fresh records Friday, while the dollar tumbled after disappointing US jobs data fueled confidence of continued fiscal and monetary support as the economy recovers from Covid-19.

Economists had projected the economy would add a million positions as vaccines and government stimulus measures allow business to return to normal in the world's largest economy.

But the United States added only 266,000 jobs, and the March increase was revised lower, while the unemployment rate rose slightly to 6.1 percent, the Labor Department reported.

That amounted to a "bust," according to Cresset Capital's Jack Ablin, while economist Joel Naroff characterized it as an "aberration" that belies other indications of a strengthening labor market.

In any case, stocks clearly were not troubled. Both the Dow and S&P 500 finished at all-time highs, while the Nasdaq gained nearly one percent.

In spite of the poor hiring figures, "it's unlikely that the economy is starting a period of weakness here," said Karl Haeling of LBBW, who alluded to other data showing economic acceleration.

"Investors don't believe that those numbers actually reflect the condition of the economy," he said.

The weak report is a setback for President Joe Biden's efforts to pump up the recovery, but analysts said it could still provide momentum for his proposed trillions of dollars in additional federal funding aimed at infrastructure and social programs.

The weak April jobs data will also quiet talk of a sudden shift in Federal Reserve monetary policy, analysts said.

"At least for today, we're going to have monetary policy for a while and this is going to help sell the infrastructure bill," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.

But the prospect of accommodative monetary policy for a while longer pressured the dollar, which fell against the euro and other major currencies.

Earlier, European bourses also advanced, while commodities continued to strengthen.

Record copper prices

With major economies led by the United States and China reopening after last year's pandemic shutdowns, industries are ramping up production, pushing the cost of materials ever higher as traders also worry about a lack of supply caused by the pandemic.

Copper, a major indicator of the state of the world economy owing to its use in a multitude of products, broke to an all-time high of above $10,300 per-ton on Friday and, with the global recovery expected to continue for some time, analysts say the price can continue north.

Commerzbank AG analyst Daniel Briesemann said "long-term prospects for metals prices... point to higher prices."

"The decarbonization trends in many countries -- which include switching to electric vehicles and expanding wind and solar power -- are likely to generate additional demand for metals," he added.

Iron ore also broke to new levels of above $200 as commodities prices across the board advanced, with lumber, tin, bacon and sugar all sharply higher.

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