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Stock market today: Wall Street leaps after eventually finding things to like in nuanced jobs report

NEW YORK — Wall Street rallied in a whipsaw Friday and erased its morning losses after looking deeper into the nuances of a surprisingly strong report on the U.S. job market. The S&P 500 climbed 1.2% after charging back from an earlier drop of 0.9%. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 288 points, or 0.9%, and the Nasdaq composite flipped to a gain of 1.6%.

Stocks initially tumbled after a report showed U.S. employers added nearly twice as many jobs last month as economists expected. The strength raised worries that a too-hot job market could keep upward pressure on inflation, which in turn could push the Federal Reserve to keep interest rates higher than investors want.

Treasury yields leaped following the release of the report, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury again soared to its highest level since 2007. It was at 4.78%, up from 4.72% late Thursday.

Wall Street hates high interest rates because they knock down prices for all kinds of investments. And even though the job market hasn’t faltered yet, despite the Fed pulling its main interest rate to the highest level since 2001, high rates work to extinguish high inflation by slowing the entire economy. That raises the risk of a recession down the road.

But Treasury yields pared their gains as the morning progressed, particularly shorter-term ones, as economists pointed to some more encouraging data within the jobs report.

The two-year Treasury yield more closely tracks expectations for action by the Fed, and it quickly soared from 5.04% just before the release of the jobs report to 5.20% shortly afterward. It then pulled back to 5.08%.

Among the potentially encouraging signals for the Fed: Workers’ average wages rose at a slower rate in September than economists expected. While that’s discouraging for workers trying to keep up with inflation, it could remove some inclination by companies to keep raising prices for their products.

The Fed should be focusing on such moderate wage gains, rather than the growth in jobs, said Brian Jacobsen, chief economist at Annex Wealth Management.

“The labor market isn’t overheating, it’s still healing,” he said.

Average hourly earnings rose at the slowest rate, on a year-over-year basis, since June 2021.

“Like most reports, Fed will find things to like and dislike here,” according to Andrew Patterson, senior economist at Vanguard. That raises the stakes for upcoming reports next week on inflation at both the consumer and wholesale levels. They’re the next big data points due before the Fed makes its next announcement on interest rates on Nov. 1.


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