US stocks advance after solid March jobs report

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Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange, April 4, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks concluded another solid week on a positive note on Friday (April 5) after the March US jobs report showed steady employment growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 26,424.99, up 0.2 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 advanced 0.5 per cent to 2,892.74, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 0.6 per cent to 7,938.69.

All three indices are at peaks for 2019.

The Labour Department reported that the US added 196,000 net new positions last month, well above expectations, while the jobless rate held steady at 3.8 per cent.

Analysts viewed the report as highly favorable to stocks because it lessened fears of a profound economic slowdown. At the same time, wage inflation moderated, reducing the chances the Federal Reserve will shift to a more hawkish posture.

"The jobs report was just perfect for equities," said LBBW's Karl Haeling.

The S&P 500 closed the week with a gain of 2.1 per cent, lifting its total advance in 2019 to 15.4 per cent.

Stocks have risen steadily throughout the year on optimism over US-China trade talks and the Fed's dovish tilt. On Friday, President Donald Trump reiterated a call for the Fed to cut interest rates.

Analysts are looking ahead to first-quarter earnings reporting season, which kicks off next week.

Among individual stocks, Tesla Motors advanced 2.7 per cent, winning back some of Thursday's 8.2 per cent drop following weak first-quarter auto deliveries.

Tesla's advance came after a federal judge on Thursday directed the company's chief executive, Elon Musk, to meet with officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission after the agency asked the court to find Musk in contempt for allegedly flouting a settlement with the agency.

Dow fell 4.1 per cent after JPMorgan Chase initiated coverage of the chemical company with an "underweight" recommendation and predicted earnings would be hurt by pricing pressure on key products.

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