Nasdaq surges 1.7 per cent to end at record after strong US jobs report

Traders working at the New York Stock Exchange on March 8, 2018.
Traders working at the New York Stock Exchange on March 8, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks surged on Friday (March 9), with the Nasdaq ending at a record following a strong US jobs report and the announcement of a summit between the US and North Korea.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.8 per cent to 7,560.81, besting the prior record in late January by 55 points.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.8 per cent to 25,335.74, while the broad-based S&P 500 also advanced 1.7 per cent to 2,786.57.

The Labour Department reported that employers added 313,000 jobs in February, far above analyst expectations, while unemployment held steady at 4.1 per cent.

The closely-watched monthly US payrolls report also revealed moderating wage growth compared with the January report, mitigating concerns the Federal Reserve will speed its pace of interest rate hikes.

The report was “a perfect combination for Wall Street,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Cresset Wealth Advisers.

“It gives the Fed some room to not have to be too aggressive,” Ablin said. “That’s good for risk takers. Money will stay cheap.”

Sentiment was also boosted by the bombshell announcement of a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, expected to take place by the end of May.

Analysts also said investors were somewhat placated by Trump’s modified approach to tariffs, which exempted Mexico and Canada making them less severe than initially feared.

Worries about a possible a trade war have not completely abated, however, with the European Union threatening retaliation.

Netflix surged 4.6 per cent following reports it is in talks with former US President Barack Obama about producing a series of shows for the online streaming giant.

Other technology companies with big gains included Dow member Intel and Google parent Alphabet, both up about 3 per cent.

Shares of toymakers Hasbro and Mattel fell by 2.1 per cent and 7.1 per cent, respectively, following reports that Toys ‘R’ Us may liquidate its US operations as it tries to emerge from bankruptcy.

Goldman Sachs rose 1.7 per cent following a Wall Street Journal report that chief executive Lloyd Blankfein could retire as soon as this year.