A late rally gave Wall Street a modest advance Friday after a lackluster employment report left investors wondering about the pace of economic...
NEW YORK — A late rally gave Wall Street a modest advance Friday after a lackluster employment report left investors wondering about the pace of economic growth and inflation. The major indexes each gained more than 1 percent this week.
At the close of trading, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 8.17 to 10,530.76.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, added 22 cents Friday to close at $26.66 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, slipped 22 cents to $65.28. For the week, Microsoft was up 4.4 percent, while Boeing was off 0.5 percent.
Broader stock indicators were also higher. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 0.20 at 1,220.14, and the Nasdaq composite index added 9.21 to 2,169.43.
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While October’s job-creation figures fell short of expectations, it signaled the economy is weathering the blows dealt by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The Labor Department said U.S. employers added 56,000 jobs last month, half the 100,000 increase projected by economists.
Investors also focused on September’s job loss, which was scaled back 27,000 jobs to just 8,000, suggesting the hurricanes’ impact was less than feared. But a downward revision to August’s figure indicated the job market may have been weaker than previously thought before the hurricanes struck, said Christopher Piros, director of investment strategy for Prudential’s Strategic Investment Research Group.
Piros also said that while payrolls have expanded by 48,000 from August to October, the growth came from a 52,000 rise in temporary employment and a 45,000 gain in construction jobs.
“Meanwhile, the rest of the economy has lost 49,000 jobs,” Piros said. “That’s not exactly a picture of strength.”
Inflation worries were renewed when the Labor Department also reported average hourly earnings grew 0.5 percent last month, ahead of estimates for a 0.2 percent gain. Higher wages benefit workers but could lead to increased prices as costs rise.
Even with a dearth of upbeat economic data over the past two weeks, the market continues to wander aimlessly with little concrete information to rely on, said Brian Gendreau, investment strategist for ING Investment Management. As an example, he pointed to the wide range of forecasts for last month’s payrolls — a loss of 25,000 jobs to a 300,000 gain.
“I think people are just doing the best they can. They’re looking at the numbers and trying to parse out as much as humanly possible,” said Gendreau, who estimates the hurricanes will reduce fourth-quarter economic activity by as much as 0.5 percent. “I do know the hurricane effect will drop out of the numbers in a month or two, and that will be positive.”
Nonetheless, stocks finished the week with sturdy gains as the third-quarter earnings season wound down and with few major economic reports expected next week. For the week, the Dow rose 1.2 percent, the S&P 500 climbed 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq jumped 3.8 percent.
Cooling oil prices offered some relief Friday after expectations for greater demand this winter drove up prices more than $2 a barrel the prior session. A barrel of light crude dropped $1.20 to $60.58 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.