Wall Street sets new records after strong Oct jobs report

Stocks soared on Friday, with major benchmarks rallying to fresh records as investors reacted favorably to October jobs report, which showed a better-than-expected pick-up in payroll growth and another improvement in the unemployment rate. 

The blue-chip index set new intraday record in the wake of the data, extending Thursday’s gains and reaching a seventh consecutive record closing high. The S&P 500 also rose about 2% for the week to mark a fifth consecutive weekly gain — its longest winning streak since August 2020. The Nasdaq also jumped to a record the broad move higher in tech shares, and the Dow reached a record close as well. 

Wall Street’s focus on Friday was on the Labor Department’s October jobs report, which showed that non-farm payrolls rose by 531,000 last month, compared to the 450,000 expected. Payrolls were also upwardly revised for both August and September. 

The unemployment rate dipped to 4.6%, or the lowest since March 2020. And average hourly earnings rose at a 4.9% year-on-year pace, with wages pushed higher as companies competed for workers amid widespread labor scarcities.

The October report suggested negative impacts from the Delta variant wave in late summer were beginning to dissipate, especially given the jump in hiring in leisure and hospitality industries and other high-contact areas of the economy. 

And importantly for investors, the labor market data helped vindicate the Federal Reserve’s latest decision to pare back on some of its monetary policy support as the economy makes more progress in its recovery. 

The central bank opted earlier this week to announce the start of its asset-purchase tapering program, but declined to offer specifics for the dollar amount of further tapering next year or the timing of interest rate hikes. The Fed noted that those would depend on how the economic recovery unfolded. Still, in his post-FOMC meeting press conference on Wednesday, Powell also noted that there was “still ground to cover to reach maximum employment both in terms of employment and in terms of participation.” 

“The labor market continues to heal. This is a really positive report today. I think Goldilocks is right, not too hot, not too cold. I don’t think this changes the Fed’s strategy at all,” Emily Roland, John Hancock Investment. Management co-chief investment strategist, told Yahoo Finance Live on Friday. “It won’t alter the Fed’s approach here as far as tapering and raising rates starting in mid-2022.”

Meanwhile, investors also eyed the latest set of earnings results from some closely watched companies. Shares of Peloton (PTON) slumped after the at-home fitness equipment company offered a disappointing forecast for the current quarter and slashed its full-year guidance, suggesting more decelerating growth after a 2020 surge in demand for home workout gear. Uber (UBER), likewise, offered adjusted income guidance that missed Wall Street’s estimates, though the ride-hailing company managed to turn first-ever adjusted profit for its latest quarter. And shares of Pinterest (PINS) jumped after traders looked past the company’s declining user base to focus on estimates-topping third-quarter earnings and profit, which came in better than feared after peer ad-driven media platforms including Snap (SNAP) disappointed the Street with results and guidance. 

4:02 p.m. ET: Stocks end records, S&P 500 posts seventh straight all-time closing high

Here’s where the major stock averages ended the session: 

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 4,697.57, +17.51 (+0.37%)

  • Dow (^DJI): 36,328.74, +204.51 (+0.57%)

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 15,971.59, +31.28 (+0.2%)

9:30 a.m ET: Stocks mixed at the open

Here were the main moves in markets as of 9:30 a.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): 4,712.01, +31.95 (+0.68%)

  • Dow (^DJI): 36,376.71, +252.48 (+0.70%)

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): 16,038.41, +98.10 (+0.62%)

  • Crude (CL=F): $80.01 per barrel, +$1.20 (+1.52%)

  • Gold (GC=F): $1,801.60, +$8.10( +0.45%)

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): -17 bps to yield 1.5070%

7:45 a.m. ET Friday: Stock futures rise ahead of jobs report

Here’s where markets were trading Friday morning:

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): +10.5 points (+0.22%), to 4,683.75

  • Dow futures (YM=F): +34.00 points (+0.09%), to 36,043.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): +47.75 points (+0.29%) to 16,378.50

  • Crude (CL=F): $79.52 per barrel, +$0.71 (+0.90%)

  • Gold (GC=F): $1,792.90 per ounce, -$0.60 (-0.03%)

  • 10-year Treasury (^TNX): +0.8 bps to yield 1.532%

6:07 p.m. ET Thursday: Stock futures drift lower 

Here’s where markets were trading as the overnight session kicked off: 

  • S&P 500 futures (ES=F): -2.25 points (+0.05%), to 4,671.00

  • Dow futures (YM=F): -29 points (-0.08%), to 35,980.00

  • Nasdaq futures (NQ=F): -4.5 points (-0.03%) to 16,326.25

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 20, 2021.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter