Stocks Seeing Modest Strength Despite Disappointing Jobs Data

Stocks are seeing modest strength in morning trading on Friday, adding to the gains posted in the three previous sessions. Buying interest has remained somewhat subdued, however, limiting the upside for the major averages.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq has been lingering near the unchanged line in recent trading and is currently up just 0.20 points at 6.428.87. The Dow is up 51.13 points or 0.2 percent at 21,999.23 and the S&P 500 is up 4.49 points or 0.2 percent at 2,476.14.

The continued strength on Wall Street comes even though the Labor Department released a report showing much weaker than expected job growth in the month of August.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment climbed by 156,000 jobs in August compared to expectations for an increase of about 180,000 jobs.

The report also said the job growth in June and July was downwardly revised to 210,000 jobs and 189,000 jobs, respectively, reflecting a net downward revision of 41,000 jobs.

Reflecting the weaker than expected job growth, the unemployment rate inched up to 4.4 percent in August from 4.3 percent in July. Economists had expected the unemployment rate to remain unchanged.

Meanwhile, a separate report from the Institute for Supply Management showed activity in the manufacturing sector expanded faster than estimated in the month of August.

The ISM said its purchasing managers index climbed to 58.8 in August from 56.3 in July, with a reading above 50 indicating growth in the manufacturing sector. Economists had expected the index to inch up to 56.5.

The bigger than expected increase lifted the purchasing managers index to its highest level since reaching 59.1 in April of 2011.

Steel stocks have shown a significant move to the upside on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Steel Index up by 1.7 percent. With the gain, the index has reached its highest intraday level in over five months.

Banking, oil service, and natural gas stocks are also seeing notable strength, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly higher during trading on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index and China’s Shanghai Composite Index both rose by 0.2 percent, although Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index bucked the uptrend and edged down by 0.1 percent.

The major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.9 percent and the German DAX Index…

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