Week in Review: Fed Chair Powell, Strong Jobs Data Help Lift Stocks from Growth Concern Angst
Wall Street kicked off the first week of 2019 on a higher note, as robust jobs data and soothing commentary from Fed Chair Jerome Powell helped press pause on global growth concerns.
The S&P 500 gained 1.9%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.6%, the Nasdaq Composite gained 2.3%, and the Russell 2000 gained 3.2%.
Headline payroll growth in the Employment Situation Report for December was comfortably ahead of estimates while average hourly earnings (+0.4%) increased more than expected, lifting the year-over-year growth rate to 3.2%.
There were some concerns, though, about how the central bank would react to stronger-than-expected jobs data.
Fed Chair Powell eased those concerns when he said the Fed will remain patient given muted inflation readings. He added monetary policy will be nimble and shift if necessary, and he also softened his previous comments regarding the Fed's balance sheet reduction path being on autopilot.
The stock market liked what it heard from Mr. Powell, and his comments helped solidify an equity rebound from previous angst over economic growth.
A rare revenue cut from Apple (AAPL) and disappointing manufacturing data from the U.S. and China had exacerbated fears that economic growth might be slowing more quickly than anticipated, which would present a headwind to corporate earnings.
The market is not free and clear from economic growth concerns, but with strong U.S. jobs growth and a friendlier-sounding Fed, the market saw renewed buying interest.
U.S. Treasuries underwent wild swings this week amid the fragility in investor sentiment. At the end of the week, the 2-yr yield declined four basis points to 2.48%, and the 10-yr yield declined eight basis points to 2.66%. The U.S. Dollar Index lost 0.2% to 96.17. WTI crude rose 6.0% to $48.03/bbl.
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