U.S. stocks closed narrowly mixed on Friday as investors eyed developments in Greece and weighed a bond yield rally on a strong jobs report, which supports the case for a rate hike this year. (Tweet This)
"The stock market's resilience to the increase in bond yields makes the Fed all the more likely to feel confident about edging the Fed funds rate up in September," said John Lonski, chief economist at Moody's. "The equity market is probably aware of the fact that it was a great number but ... 65 percent of the jobs created were limited in income growth opportunities."
Optimism about U.S. economic growth mostly outweighed concerns about tightening as stocks repeatedly attempted gains after opening in the red. The Nasdaq outperformed, closing higher, while the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average ended lower below their 50-day moving averages.
The major indices closed mildly lower for the week, while the Dow transports posted 2.5 percent gains for its first positive week in four.
"The positive is you do need economic growth to have earnings growth," said Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management. "The second quarter wasn't feeling extremely strong by any means. I feel a little better (since) you'll feel a little more firmness in the market from that standpoint. The next milestone is the retail sales number next week."
Financials, direct beneficiaries of higher interest rates, gained about half a percent on Friday as one of the few advancing sectors in the S&P 500. Leading blue chips gains, JPMorgan Chase closed up 1.6 percent for a new record and Goldman Sachs closed at a 52-week high. The S&P Regional Banking ETF (KRE) closed up nearly 2 percent, for a 3.56 percent weekly gain.
Utilities, which are most negatively correlated to higher rates, plunged more than 1.5 percent to weigh on the S&P.
Marc Chaikin, CEO of Chaikin Analytics, said a rate hike "is a huge boost to the bottom line" for financials, while gains in the energy sector on Friday were driven by signs of economic improvement amid stabilization in oil prices.
European stocks closed lower after the strong U.S. jobs report. Also pressuring stocks was Greece's delay of a debt payment to the IMF originally due Friday. The ATHEX Composite fell nearly 5 percent.
"I would call it a disappointment, and not an impending crisis," Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said of the lack of resolution on Greek debt.
After the local market close, Greece Prime Minister Alexis
It "wouldn't surprise me to see a late day selloff to the lows as traders don't want to remain long over the weekend with Greece hanging out there," said Lance Roberts, general partner at STA Wealth Management.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls totaled 280,000 in May, beating expectations, with unemployment slightly above forecasts at 5.5 percent.
"This is the best number we've seen this year," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. He and several other analysts said the beat did not put June back on the table but that September was likely.
Other key metrics in the report also encouraged analysts. Average hourly earnings increased by 8 cents, also beating expectations. The labor force participation rate gained to 62.9 percent.
"All of those moved exactly in the right direction," said Philip Noftsinger, president of CBIZ Payroll. "The economy continues to show signs of growing strength and stability and a lack of vulnerability."
Futures edged lower after the key employment report continued to show strength in the labor market while growth in most parts of the economy remains moderate.
"From a stock market perspective this is nothing that should indicate a significant drop back," said Stephen Freedman, CIO Head of U.S. Thematic and Sustainable Investing Strategy at UBS Wealth Management. "I don't think this (report) is very game changing—just strengthens the case for September."
Treasury yields traded slightly below session highs. The 8:30 a.m. ET release of the jobs report sent yields surging, with the 2-year yield jumping above 0.747 percent and the U.S. 10-year yield hitting an intraday high of 2.442 percent, its highest level since October 6.