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05-May2018

US markets closed higher on Friday

The US markets closed higher on Friday, with major indexes shaking off an early slide as technology stocks - notably Apple Inc. - rallied, overshadowing uncertainty over tense trade talks between the US and China and a weaker-than-expected rise in April nonfarm payrolls. Friday's gains were broad based, with all 11 S&P 500 sectors higher on the day. Tech was by far the biggest boost to markets, though, gaining 2%. Friday's gains weren't enough to push the Dow and S&P into positive territory for the week, with both posting 0.2% weekly declines. The Nasdaq turned positive for the five-session stretch, however, up 1.3%.

Meanwhile, New York Fed President William Dudley said he will be surprised if there was a recession in the next two years. The April employment report showed another good, healthy gain in payrolls. And households and businesses are in good shape financially. Dudley said trade tension and rising budget deficits were two clouds on the outlook. Dudley added that it was too soon to see a pickup in investment from the Trump tax cut. It would be shocking if the lower taxes didn't boost business spending. San Francisco Fed President John William said that the central tendency of Federal Reserve officials in March was for three or four rate hikes this year and that is still the right way to think about the policy outlook in May. With the labor market was getting stronger and inflation perhaps rising a bit above 2% target, continued gradual rate hikes are appropriate. Williams added that given the economic outlook, it may be appropriate for the Fed to raise the fed funds rate above its long-run neutral level, which is near 2.5%. He said the economy was in a goldilocks period of strong growth and moderate price increases.

On the economy front, the economy generated a solid 164,000 jobs in April to push the unemployment rate below 4% for the first time since Bill Clinton was president, a sign the surging labor market shows no signs ebbing. The increase in hiring fell short of the 188,000 forecast, but the shortfall was cushioned by upward revisions that show the US created more jobs in March than originally reported. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, slipped to 3.9% after holding at 4.1% for six months in a row. Despite the ultra-tight jobs market, wages for American workers still aren't rising rapidly. Hourly pay rose 0.1% to $26.84. The 12-month increase in pay was flat at 2.6% for the third month in a row. The increase in new jobs last month was spearheaded by professional businesses. They added 54,000 workers. Hiring also rose smartly among health-care providers and manufacturers, each of which added 24,000 jobs. Construction firms increased payrolls by 17,000.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 332.36 points or 1.39 percent to 24,262.51, the Nasdaq gained 121.466 points or 1.71 percent to 7,209.62, and the S&P 500 was up by 33.69 points or 1.28 percent to 2,663.42. 



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