If you guessed that the jobs report would show that 175,000 new jobs were created in February, then you win. Yes, the number did come in higher than the consensus estimate of 150,000 new jobs, but the markets really seemed unimpressed. Stocks did rally early on, but by midday the Dow and the S&P were hovering around the breakeven level, and traders seemed uninterested in doing much before the weekend.
By the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 30 points to finish the day at 16,452. The S&P 500 was up 1 point to close at 1878. Gold was down $11 to trade at $1339 per ounce, while oil was up $.99 to trade at $102.56 per barrel WTI.
Despite the unemployment rate ticking up to 6.7% from 6.6%, market participants will be focusing on how the Fed will guide the markets in the future with regards to raising interest rates. They have been targeting 6.5% on the unemployment rate, and indicated that they would consider a change in their stance of keeping rates at virtually zero, if and when that was achieved (now we know how that has been achieved, as people have left the labor force and given up looking for jobs, lowering the participation rate). Let’s see if the Fed moves the goal posts in upcoming FOMC meetings (very possible) or will they stick to the original game plan? Other than the Ukraine situation, that is what is on most traders’ minds right now. We’ll let you know how next week plays out.
Have a great weekend everyone.