Wall Street pushes higher as jobs data bolster case for stimulus

·3-min read
Disappointing jobs data boosted the case for US President Joe Biden's $1.9-trillion stimulus package

Wall Street stocks pushed higher Friday as a lacklustre US jobs report was seen as bolstering the case for US President Joe Biden's $1.9-trillion stimulus plan.

Markets had been keenly awaiting the US jobs report for January to gauge the pace of the economic recovery, and a strong report would have been seen as undercutting the administration's argument for a big package.

But the report showed the US economy added only 49,000 jobs as the coronavirus pandemic continued to hamper business, far short of the gain of 105,000 expected by analysts.

Stephen Innes, chief global markets strategist at Axi, called the report a "double clunker" as the December figure was revised to a drop of 227,000 jobs from an initial estimate of 140,000.

"The key takeaway from the report is that it will paint the case in Washington for more stimulus," said analyst Patrick J. O'Hare at Briefing.com.

"The market knows that, but then again, it has already been banking on more stimulus coming," he added.

Expectations that US President Joe Biden will be able to push through his $1.9-trillion stimulus package for the economy has been boosting market confidence for weeks.

Biden on Friday accelerated his push to win Congressional approval of the package after it cleared a key Senate hurdle.

With the private sector having created only 6,000 jobs last month, the president said: "At that rate, it's going to take 10 years before we get to full unemployment."

Wall Street's leading stock indices pushed higher, with the Dow adding 0.4 percent in late morning trading and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite adding to record closes seen the previous day.

In Europe, Paris ended the day with gains, but both Frankfurt and London slipped into the red.

Meanwhile, oil prices continued to climb on rising demand expectations as people return to more normal lives.

Brent North Sea reached $59.79 per barrel to stand almost at pre-pandemic levels.

While virus infections and deaths remain high, investors are hopeful that a slowdown in rates, combined with vaccines, will soon allow governments to begin easing containment measures.

"WTI and Brent crude oil it their highest levels since February last year on continued worries about supply coupled with a belief the world economy is going to improve this year, and therefore demand for oil will rise," said David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

On the corporate front Friday, Chinese short-video app company Kuaishou -- a major rival to TikTok -- nearly tripled on its market debut following a $5.4-billion initial public offering that was the biggest for an internet firm since Uber's May 2019 listing.

- Key figures around 1630 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 31,165.59 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,652.33

London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.2 percent at 6,489.33 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN less than 0.1 percent at 14,056.72 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.9 percent at 5,659.26 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 1.5 percent at 28,779.19 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.6 percent at 29,288.68 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.2 percent at 3,496.33 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2026 from $1.1962 at 2200 GMT

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 105.43 yen from 105.52 yen

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3727 from $1.3666

Euro/pound: UP at 87.61 pence from 87.52 pence

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.1 percent at $59.51 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.3 percent at $56.96 per barrel