US stocks mostly up after strong January jobs data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished mostly higher on Friday (Feb 4) as markets weighed a surprisingly good US jobs report that raised expectations for aggressive tightening in monetary policy.

The United States added an unexpectedly robust 467,000 jobs in January, according to Labour Department data that also significantly raised job figures for November and December.

While the report suggests economic health, another big rise in 10-year US Treasury note yields on Friday focused concerns on expectations for multiple Federal Reserve interest rate hikes this year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.1 per cent at 35,089.74.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.5 per cent to 4,500.53, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 1.6 per cent to 14,098.01.

All three indices posted gains for the week.

Art Hogan, chief strategist at National Securities, said this week's gains showed "there is more of a focus on the micro, meaning earnings, rather than macro, meaning monetary policy," noting that the majority of major companies results have been solid.

But markets remain focused on inflation, with upcoming consumer price reports a potential source of volatility.

"Persistent inflation, like a house fire, would force the Fed to barrel in and hose down inflation without regard for the upholstery, in this case equities," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management.

Among individual companies, Amazon surged 13.5 per cent as the company reported stronger-than-expected results despite higher labour, sourcing and delivery costs, with revenues jumping 9 per cent to US$137.4 billion (S$184.8 billion) in the fourth quarter.

Snap was another big winner, soaring nearly 60 per cent after the firm behind messaging app Snapchat reported its first-ever quarter profit.

But Ford slumped nearly 10 per cent as the automaker's fourth-quarter profits lagged analyst estimates, with the company citing supply chain problems as a factor.

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