Bad news was good news for Wall Street Friday. Stocks rose at the opening bell to hit more new record highs — despite the fact that the United States government reported a surprise loss of 140,000 jobs in December. The hope was this could lead to more stimulus.
But the Dow gave up some of its early gains and finished the day up only 0.2%, as investors now seem worried that more help might not soon be coming after all. The Washington Post reported Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said he would “absolutely not” support another round of checks.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq pulled back modestly following the report as well but ended the day up 0.6% and 1% to close once again at new record highs.
Joe Biden will be inaugurated in less than two weeks and Democrats now control the Senate as well as the House following this week’s Georgia run-off elections. That led to hopes that more stimulus would be a slam dunk.
“The ongoing battle against the pandemic is putting pressure on the real economy once again,” said Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management, in an email to CNN Business, “and despite what financial markets are signaling, the labor market is indicating there is still a ways to go on the economic road to recovery.”
“The ability for Congress to provide additional fiscal support has increased and today’s employment report simply beckons them to do so,” Ripley added.
Hopes are also growing for a recovery in the economy as well as corporate earnings later this year, as more people are likely to get one of the Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer (PFE) and BioNTech (BNTX) or Moderna (MRNA).
“Investors are already looking through this temporary period of economic weakness and instead focusing on the brighter outlook where fiscal spending, monetary stimulus and mass distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines together ensure the US economy quickly returns to its pre-pandemic path,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors, in a report Friday.
Stocks enjoyed a solid first week of 2021 despite the chaos in Washington, even rising while rioters stormed the Capitol Wednesday as lawmakers prepared to certify Biden’s victory over President Trump.
The Dow rose more than 1.6% this week while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq gained 1.8% and 2.4%, respectively.
The hopes for an economic recovery are a likely reason why bond yields are bouncing back, too. The yield on the US 10-year Treasury recently rose above 1% for the first time since March and inched higher after the jobs report.
“This jobs number weakness today may be transitory,” said Jim Caron, portfolio manager in global fixed income at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, in an interview with CNN Business.
“This data was not good but investors are looking past the recent volatility to brighter days ahead,” Caron added. He also noted that investors realize that the Federal Reserve is likely to keep interest rates near zero for several more years — perhaps until 2024.
There are other signs of economic improvement lately, despite the jobs weakness.
The most recent ISM manufacturing report showed a continued rebound for many American industrial sectors, said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.
Can anything stop Tesla and Elon Musk?
In other market news, Tesla (TSLA) shares continued their electrifying run, rising another 8% Friday. Elon Musk’s car company has soared more than 20% in 2021. The company is worth more than $830 billion, topping the market value of Facebook (FB).
Tesla is now the fifth most valuable company in the S&P 500, trailing only Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) and Google owner Alphabet (GOOGL).
Shares of Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings Corp. V, a so-called blank check special purpose acquisition company, dipped a bit Friday after soaring nearly 60% Thursday on the news that online lending firm SoFi plans to merge with it in order to go public.
The deal values SoFi at nearly $8.7 billion.
And bitcoin (XBT) fell slightly as concerns mounted about its meteoric spike higher in recent weeks. The cryptocurrency topped $40,000 Thursday — just days after it first topped $30,000.