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S&P 500 closes higher, posts weekly gain after jobs report

  • The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August. Economists polled by Reuters expected 180,000 jobs to have been added last month.
  • Investors were closely watching out for the report as they looked for clues about the Federal Reserve's next monetary policy move.
  • The Dow Jones industrial average rose above 22,000 for the first time since mid-August.
  • The Nasdaq posted its biggest one-week gain of the year.

U.S. stocks closed higher on Friday as Wall Street assessed the likelihood of tighter monetary policy following a weaker-than-expected jobs report.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39.46 points, to close at 21,987.56, with Goldman Sachs contributing the most gains. The index also rose above 22,000 earlier in the session for the first time since mid-August.

The S&P 500 gained 0.17 percent to end at 2,475.77, with energy leading seven sectors higher. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.1 percent to 6,435.33, a record close.

For the week, the three major indexes posted solid weekly gains. The Dow gained 0.8 percent for the week, while the S&P rose 1.3 percent. The Nasdaq, meanwhile, rose 2.7 percent, notching its best weekly performance of the year.

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The U.S. economy added 156,000 jobs in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists polled by Reuters expected 180,000 jobs to have been added last month.

The BLS also said, however, that wages grew at an annualized rate of 2.5 percent, less than expected.

"We still have that disconnect between modest economic growth and low inflation. I think that's helping the market here," said Jim Davis, regional investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "The lower inflation numbers are going to give the Fed pause here."

Investors were closely watching out for the report as they looked for clues about the Fed's next monetary policy move.

The Fed is set to meet later this month with many investors expecting the central bank start rolling off its massive bonds portfolio later in the fall. However, most investors are expecting the Fed to keep interest rates unchanged for the rest of 2017. Another rate hike isn't fully priced in until June 2018, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

"August's nonfarm data is disappointing but should be viewed the context of solid U.S. and global economic growth, strong earnings, low inflation and still-ample global liquidity which will likely allow the US rally to continue," said Kully Samra, UK managing director at Charles Schwab, in a note.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Stock futures remained in a tight range following the jobs report's release, but U.S. Treasurys and the dollar whipsawed.

The benchmark 10-year yield hit 2.11 percent before jumping to 2.155 percent. The dollar, meanwhile, traded more than half a percent lower before holding slightly above breakeven.

"I think the stock market is a bit of a victim of timing because, if you look at the Treasury market, it had a pretty strong reaction to the report," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. "Yesterday we had a rally to close out the month and we also had North Korea and Harvey earlier this week."

Friday's report showed that August marked the 83rd straight month of jobs growth. But a slowdown could take place in September and October after Houston was ravaged by a storm which has shut down the city.

"You're not going to see hiring activity [in Houston] for a few weeks and that is going to take a chunk out of the survey next month," said Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor. "Houston being on of the biggest cities in the U.S. and the energy capital of the country ... could be a risk moving forward."

Other data released Friday included construction spending for July, which hit a nine-month low, and national factory activity for August, which expanded more than expected.

—CNBC's Jeff Cox contributed to this report.