Dow jumps nearly 500 points after softer-than-expected jobs report fuels hopes of an earlier rate cut

Dow jumps nearly 500 points after softer-than-expected jobs report fuels hopes of an earlier rate cut

May 03,2024
New York CNN  — 

US stocks soared higher Friday morning after new data showed that US job growth slowed considerably last month.

The blue-chip Dow was higher by 488 points, or 1.2%; the S&P 500 was up 1.1% and the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 1.8%.

The economy added just 175,000 new jobs in April, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, far below economists’ expectations for 235,000 jobs and the 315,000 jobs added in March. The unemployment rate ticked higher as well, to 3.9% from 3.8% the month before.

While that’s bad news for Main Street, Wall Street celebrated.

That’s because the Federal Reserve is working to slow the economy by hiking interest rates — the only tool it has to fight inflation. A still-robust job market means the central bank could continue to keep rates elevated without fear of sending the economy into a recession. If the labor market weakens, the Fed is more likely to consider a rate cut.

Friday’s employment data “was a big sigh of relief for markets, with a softer job market and importantly a softer average hourly earnings readout,” wrote Matt Peron, global head of solutions at Janus Henderson Investors, in a note on Friday. “Taken together, this should give markets some hope that inflation is not as sticky as feared and raises the possibility of getting back on the disinflation trend we saw last year.”

Investors have already increased their expectations for more interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve this year. They’re now anticipating a nearly 75% chance that there will be at least one rate cut after the central bank’s September meeting, according to the CME FedWatch tool. That’s up from about 62% just one day ago.

Treasury yields also snapped lower on the news. The 10-year yield fell below 4.5%. Treasury yields and prices are inversely related.

At a press conference following Wednesday’s Fed policy decision to keep interest rates the same, Chair Jerome Powell said that the central bank would act if there was a sudden drop in employment.

“We’re also prepared to respond to an unexpected weakening in the labor market,” he said.

In earnings news, shares of Apple opened 7.5% higher after the company reported strong earnings for the first quarter of 2024 on Thursday evening. The iPhone maker also said it expected to beat sales estimates for the year.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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