Dow, S&P 500 eke out gains on encouraging jobs data
NEW YORK — An encouraging report on hiring barely fazed the stock market Friday, leaving indexes with the slightest of gains. For investors, good is no longer good enough.
The Labor Department said employers added 214,000 jobs to their payrolls in October. That knocked the unemployment rate down to 5.8 percent, the lowest rate since July 2008. But Wall Street wanted more.
“This isn’t a bad report by any means,” Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at the brokerage BTIG in New York, wrote in a note to clients.
Nine months of employers hiring more than 200,000 workers is obviously an encouraging trend. But he described the 214,000 figure as “certainly disappointing.”
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index eked out a gain of 0.71 point to end at 2,031.92. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 19.46 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,573.93. Both indexes closed out the week at record highs.
The Nasdaq composite fell 5.94 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,632.53.
“The market is priced for perfection right now,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial in Waltham, Mass. That’s Wall Street slang for a market so high it appears investors think everything is going to keep getting better.
“If it’s not fantastic, it disappoints,” he said.
Similarly, bond traders were betting that the government’s report would show even stronger hiring last month, said Tom di Galoma, head of rates and credit trading at ED&F Man Capital, a brokerage in New York. So the actual report rattled the normally staid Treasury market, pushing the 10-year yield down to 2.30 percent from 2.39 percent late Thursday.
Comments from Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve chair, that implied the Fed was in no rush to raise interest rates helped press bond yields down.