Nasdaq closes in on record high after surprise jobs report

(Reuters) – A stunning U.S. jobs report on Friday put the Nasdaq within striking distance of its record high as investors flocked back to riskier assets on hopes of a swift economic rebound from the coronavirus-driven slump.

The blue-chip Dow Jones index added 1,000 points, briefly hitting a level not seen since early March, while the S&P 500 is less than 1% away from turning positive on the year.

Data from the Labor Department showed nonfarm payrolls rose by 2.509 million jobs last month after a record plunge of 20.687 million in April, and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to 13.3% in May from 14.7% in April.

“Today was a shocking jobs number and for the first time this year it was a positive shock,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer of Independent Advisor Alliance in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“At 13.3%, we are still at a higher rate than any that we hit during the financial crisis in 2007-2009, but as long as that continues to move lower, it will show that the reopening of the economy is proceeding smoothly.”

Wall Street has rebounded sharply from a coronavirus-driven crash in March as investors bet on a revival in business activity following the easing of a nationwide lockdown, and the S&P 500 is now just about 6% below its February record high.

The S&P 500 banks sub-index, considered interest-rate sensitive, jumped 5.1% as U.S. Treasury yields rose after the data. [US/]

Boeing Co gained 16.2%, the biggest boost to the Dow Jones index, on hopes of a pickup in air travel a day after American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines said they would boost their U.S. flight schedule next month.

The NYSE ARCA Airline index also jumped 10.8%. The Dow Jones Transport Average index, often seen as a barometer for economic confidence, rose 4.6%.

All major S&P 500 sector indexes rose, with investors buying into more cyclical stocks including energy, financials, and consumer discretionary. The defensive consumer staples index was among the smallest gainers.

At 12:55 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 927.89 points, or 3.53%, at 27,209.71, the S&P 500 was up 86.12 points, or 2.77%, at 3,198.47 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 202.45 points, or 2.11%, at 9,818.27.

Fears of more disruptions from social unrest have also eased, with the largely peaceful protests against the killing of a black man in police custody waning into Friday morning and emergency curfews in many cities being lifted.

Vaccine maker Novavax Inc rose 3.2% after saying it would get up to $60 million from the U.S. Department of Defense to fund manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Tiffany & Co jumped 5.9% after Reuters reported the LVMH is not seeking to renegotiate its $16.2-billion takeover deal after deliberating whether to do so.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 6.18-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 3.54-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded 23 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 77 new highs and two new lows.

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