S&P 500, Nasdaq Hit Record High as Softer Jobs Rebound Sparks Stimulus Hopes

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By Yasin Ebrahim – The S&P 500 and Nasdaq hit all-time highs Friday on growing investor optimism that further stimulus to prop up the recovery is on the way following a weaker-than-expected rebound in U.S. job gains.

The was up 0.31%, having hit an intraday record high of 3,894.50 earlier in the session. The rose 0.31%, or 97 points, and the was up 0.51%.

The U.S. created more 49,000 jobs in January, from a downwardly revised 227,000 decline in jobs seen in December, and lower than economists’ estimates for a 50,000 gain. The unemployment rate fell to 6.3% from 6.7%, but the better-than-expected decline was due to “people leaving the labor force as employment rose 201,000 and unemployment fell 606,000,” Jefferies (NYSE:) said.

The weaker than expected bounce in jobs is expected to galvanize lawmakers on Capitol Hill to speed up efforts on another round of stimulus.  

“Going forward, this minimal improvement in January hiring underscores concerns that the labor market recovery may take some time, potentially remaining well below full employment for years, and also provides additional ammunition for those in Washington focused on a further increase in government spending to help supplement growth,” Stifel said in a note.

President Joe Biden on Friday said he would move forward with his $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package even if it means passing it without the 10 Republican votes needed in the Senate.  The president also stressed that he would not trim the size of the proposed $1,400 direct payments to Americans.

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“The biggest risk is not going too big [on the size of the stimulus package] but too small,” Biden said during televised remarks on Friday. He added: “It’s very clear our economy is still in trouble,”

The Senate approved a budget bill early Friday, paving the way for passage of Biden’s “American Rescue Plan.”

The background of growing optimism of further stimulus comes as the quarterly earnings continued to surprise to the upside, further boosting investor sentiment.

Ford (NYSE:) reported better-than-expected , but revenue missed expectations. Its stock still climbed 2% as the company upped its spending plans on electrical vehicles to $29 billion, underscoring its intention to make a big splash in the EV market.

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ:) surged 9% after projecting strong 2021 forecast and delivering a beat on the both the top and bottom lines, led by strong performance from its “Call of Duty” franchise.

Snap (NYSE:) was up 6% shrugging off a softer-than-expected first-quarter guidance as topped analysts’ estimates.

Peloton Interactive Inc (NASDAQ:) fell 6%, however, after flagging supply chain issues as the cycling company struggled to keep up with demand. The company’s fourth-quarter topped Wall Street forecasts.

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