U.S. stocks soared after a much better-than-expected employment report for November from the Labor Department which saw the economy create 266,000 new jobs, the most since January, and the unemployment rote fell to 3.5%, a 50 year low.

However, progress toward a partial U.S. – China trade deal remains a point of focus for market participants also as a deadline that will see import duties increased on December 15 looms.

How are major benchmarks performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

YMZ19, +0.89%

were up 175 points, or 0.7%, at 27,856 while S&P 500 futures

ESZ19, +0.78%

gained 19 points, or 0.6%, to 3,137, and Nasdaq-100 futures

NQZ19, +0.84%

were up 51 points at 8,372, a rise of 0.7%.

On Thursday, the Dow

DJIA, +0.97%

 closed up 28.01 points, 0.1%, at 27,677.79 after trading in the red most of the day. The S&P 500

SPX, +0.86%

was up 4.67 points, or 0.15%, at 3,117.43 and the Nasdaq Composite Index

COMP, +0.93%

 closed 4.03 points higher, or 0.05%, at 8,570.70.

All three indexes will still close the week lower: the Dow is on track to decline 1.3%, the S&P 500 is poised for a 0.7% skid, and the Nasdaq Composite will see a decline of 1.1%, as of Thursday’s close.

What’s driving the market?

The U.S. economy created 266,000 new jobs in November, the Labor Department reported, the biggest gain since January, signaling the labor market remains robust even though economic growth has slowed.

The increase in new jobs easily topped the 180,000 MarketWatch forecast, helped by the end of the General Motors

GM, +1.05%

  auto-workers strike which added roughly 50,000 jobs to the payrolls number.

The unemployment rate slipped to 3.5% from 3.6% and matched a 50-year low.

The average wage paid to American workers rose 7 cents, or 0.2%, to $28.29 an hour. The 12-month rate of hourly wage gains slipped to 3.1% from 3.2%. Hours worked each week were flat at 34.4 hours. The government revised the increase in new jobs in October to 156,000 from 128,000. September’s gain was raised to 193,000 from 180,000.

The strength of the employment report was seen justifying Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s policy of leaving interest rates on hold, analysts said.

“This economy just won’t stop and even with the wheels of growth slowing down to a modest 2 percent, the labor markets continue to astound us by pumping out millions of jobs,” MUFG chief economist Chris Rupkey said.

Also on investors’ radar is U.S. consumer sentiment data for December at 10 a.m., at the same time a reading on wholesale trade figures for October will be released and data on consumer credit is set to be published at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Meanwhile, U.S.-China trade talks also remain in the spotlight ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline for $156 billion in new tariffs on consumer goods to take effect.

China’s State Council on Friday began the process of exempting some soybeans and pork imported from the U.S. from import tariffs, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, a move taken as a positive sign in agreeing at least a partial trade pact. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the week that the value of the farm goods China will buy from the U.S. is still an issue, as trade representatives in China are still pushing for a phaseout of earlier tariffs.

Stocks To Watch

Financial stocks got a big lift Friday, as much stronger-than-expected November jobs data provided a boost to the sector and the broader stock market. The SPDR Financial Select Sector ETF

XLF, +1.27%

 rallied 1.1%. Bank of America

BAC, +1.71%

  increased to 1.6%, Citigroup

C, +1.58%

  rose 1.5%, and J.P. Morgan

JPM, +1.65%

  was up 1.5%.

Uber Technologies

UBER, +0.65%

 slipped after it said it received more than 3,000 reports of sexual assault in the U.S. last year, down 16% from a year earlier.

American Outdoor Brands

AOBC, -0.58%

rose after beating forecasts The Smith & Wesson parent’s revenue was also above estimates and the company raised full-year outlook as gun demand stabilizes.

CrowdStrike

CRWD, +2.97%

 fell 3.0% topped Wall Street estimates with quarterly results and the cybersecurity company’s stock turned around after a typo in its outlook was corrected.

How are other markets faring?

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note

TMUBMUSD10Y, +2.06%

rose 5 basis points to 1.85%, after the much stronger than expected U.S. employment report.

West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery

CLF22, +1.20%

slipped 37 cents, or 0.6% to $58.09 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, as the market is watching for a decision from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on deepening oil-output reductions.

Gold for February delivery

GCG20, -1.19%

fell 0.8% to around $1,472.20 an ounce on Comex.

The U.S. dollar, as measured by the ICE U.S. Dollar Index

DXY, +0.22%,

rose 0.3% to 97.67 against a basket of a half-dozen currency peers.

European stocks were higher, with the Stoxx 600 Europe index

SXXP, +1.04%

up 1.0% at 406.00.

In Asia overnight Friday, the Hang Seng

HSI, +1.07%

 advanced 0.2%, the China CSI 300

000300, +0.59%

 rose 0.6%, while the Shanghai Composite Index

SHCOMP, +0.43%

closed 0.4% higher.

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2019-12-06