After an early move to the upside, stocks remain mostly positive in mid-day trading on Friday. While buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, the Dow managed to reach a new record intraday high in early trading.
Currently, the major averages are holding on to modest gains. The Dow is up 35.90 points or 0.2 percent at 22,062.00, the Nasdaq is up 11.94 points or 0.2 percent at 6,352.28 and the S&P 500 is up 3.75 points or 0.2 percent at 2,475.91.
The strength on Wall Street comes after a closely watched Labor Department report showed employment in the U.S. jumped by much more than anticipated in the month of July.
The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 209,000 jobs in July after spiking by an upwardly revised 231,000 jobs in June.
Economists had expected employment to climb by 183,000 jobs compared to the addition of 222,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.
With the stronger than expected job growth, the unemployment rate edged down to 4.3 percent in July from 4.4 percent in June. The modest decrease matched economist estimates.
The report also said average hourly employee earnings were up by 2.5 percent year-over-year in July, unchanged from the previous month.
The data has generated optimism about the economic outlook, although it has also raised concerns about the possibility of future interest rate hikes.
“Following the disappointing ISM surveys for July, released earlier this week, this employment report provides reassurance that the real economy remained solid at the start of the third quarter,” said Michael Pearce, U.S. economist at Capital Economics.
He added, “If the labor market continues to tighten over the coming months, as the survey evidence suggests it will, the Fed will press ahead with rate hikes and balance sheet normalization later this year.”
A separate report from the Commerce Department showed the trade deficit narrowed more than expected in June amid rising exports and falling imports.
The report said the trade deficit narrowed to $43.6 billion in June from $46.4 billion in May. Economists had expected the deficit to narrow to $45.0 billion.
Steel stocks have shown a strong move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 1.6 percent. The index is bouncing off its lowest closing level in almost a month.
Brazil’s CSN (SID), Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF), and Mechel (MTL) are turning in some of the steel sector’s best performances.
Considerable strength also…