Wall Street turned in a mixed performance today as investors set aside some initial enthusiasm over a stronger-than-expected jobs report...
NEW YORK — Wall Street turned in a mixed performance today as investors set aside some initial enthusiasm over a stronger-than-expected jobs report to lock in some of Wall Street’s recent gains. Blue-chip stocks logged their third weekly advance in a row as investors grew more confident about the economy’s ability to outrun a deep downturn.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.20 to 13,058.20 after being up more than 100 points early in the session.
Microsoft, one of the 30 Dow stocks, fell 16 cents to close at $29.24 a share. Boeing, also a Dow stock, gained 28 cents to $85.69.
Broader stock indicators ended mixed. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4.56 to 1,413.90, while the Nasdaq slipped 3.72 to 2,476.99.
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Strong reports on employment and the pace of orders at factories offered investors fresh evidence that the economy might not be in as worrisome a state as many had feared. But a surprise quarterly loss from Sun Microsystems weighed on the tech-laden Nasdaq composite index.
Still, buyers outnumbered sellers after a government employment report showed the nation’s employers cut far fewer jobs than expected last month, stirring optimism about the buoyancy of the economy. But after sharp gains Thursday, some investors decided to take some money out of stocks.
Dave Rovelli, managing director of U.S. equity trading at Canaccord Adams, said stocks pulled back from the day’s highs as investors locked in gains after a decent run-up.
“This is just normal profit-taking,” he said, adding, “Sun Microsystems’ earnings today didn’t help the cause.”
The employment report today came at the end of a critical week for Wall Street. While corporate results dominated in previous weeks, investors this week focused on the Federal Reserve’s decision Wednesday to lower interest rates and on reports on the gross domestic product, personal spending and factory orders.
The Fed’s decision to lower rates by a quarter point to 2 percent and widespread speculation that it will stand pat at future meetings buoyed investors’ confidence. The Fed’s comments helped shore up an anemic dollar and calmed some fears about inflation.
Bond prices declined as some investors moved into stocks from the safety of government debt. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, rose to 3.83 percent from 3.77 percent late Thursday.
Light, sweet crude rose $3.80 to settle at $116.32 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.
Recent months have brought spikes in food and energy costs that have made it harder for many consumers. Wall Street is concerned that rising prices and a weak housing market would force consumers, who account for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity, to curtail spending.
But with oil prices pulling back sharply Thursday, stocks took off, and they continued their run into today’s session before the rally stalled.
Rovelli said investors apparently felt the recent run-up had occurred too quickly.
“The environment is not that great,” he said, referring to energy prices that remain elevated even off their highest levels. “We’re overbought. We were overdue for some profit-taking.”
The Labor Department’s report that employers cut 20,000 jobs in April was a relief to Wall Street, which had been expecting payrolls to fall by 75,000 jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 5 percent from 5.1 percent. This marked the fourth straight month of job losses, but the data signaled that perhaps the economy might be resisting falling into recession.
A separate report showing that factory orders increased in March after two months of declines added to an upbeat mood. The Commerce Department said U.S. manufacturers saw orders increase 1.4 percent in March. Economists expected a 0.2 percent increase after declines in January and February.
Meanwhile, the Fed said it will work with European central banks to expand efforts to deal with the global credit crisis. The central bank will boost the amount of emergency reserves it supplies to U.S. banks to $150 billion in May, up from the $100 billion it supplied in April.
In corporate news, Sun Microsystems shares fell $3.69, or 23 percent, to $12.64 after the company stunned investors late Thursday by reporting a loss for the third quarter. The server and software maker blamed the loss on sagging sales to U.S. consumer-oriented companies that are delaying big-ticket spending.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average rose 2.1 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 finished up 2.1 percent, Germany’s DAX index added 1.4 percent, and France’s CAC-40 rose 1.5 percent.