Strong US jobs data lifts Wall Street stocks to 2023 high

Stronger-than-expected labour market figure tempered expectations of a recession in the world's biggest economy

The latest US jobs data could 'help scale back the dovish Federal Reserve expectations'. AP
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Wall Street hit a new high in 2023, buoyed by stronger-than-expected US jobs data that also tempered expectations of a recession in the world's biggest economy.

The US added 199,000 jobs in November, compared to a 180,000 estimate from analysts polled by Bloomberg, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.7 per cent, the Labour Department reported on Friday,

This is also a sign that the US might be able to tame inflation that has remained high. Investors are also keeping an eye on next week's Federal Reserve policy meeting.

Inflation has significantly moderated from a 9.1 per cent peak last year to its current level of 3.2 per cent. And a measure closely watched by the Federal Reserve showed prices rose by 2.5 per cent, which is not far off the central bank's 2 per cent target.

“A stronger-than-expected [jobs] figure could help scale back the dovish Federal Reserve expectations, but could hardly bring the hawks back to the market before next week’s FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] decision,” said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote Bank.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.4 per cent for a sixth straight week of gains, which is also its longest in four years. The Dow Jones Industrial Average settled 0.4 per cent higher, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite added 0.4 per cent.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.2 per cent, the Dow added about 0.1 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.7 per cent. Year-to-date, the indices are up 19.9 per cent, 9.4 per cent and 37.6 per cent, respectively.

In Europe, London's FTSE 100 added 0.5 per cent to finish at its highest level in seven weeks, lifted by energy shares.

Energy stocks leapt 1.6 per cent after Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world's two biggest oil-exporting countries, called on members of the Opec+ group to join an output cut agreement to support the global economy.

Elsewhere in Europe, Paris' CAC 40 jumped 1.3 per cent and Frankfurt's DAX rose 0.8 per cent.

Earlier in Asia, major stock markets were mostly up before retreating at the close before the US jobs data was announced.

Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1.7 per cent on the yen's strength against the US dollar, impacting exporters. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index declined 0.1 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite eked out a 0.1 per cent gain.

In commodities, oil prices rose sharply but still posted their seventh consecutive weekly decline amid concerns about a global supply glut and weak demand from the world's top crude importer, China. Prices rebounded after the call from Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Brent rose 2.42 per cent to settle at $75.84 a barrel, while West Texas Intermediate added 2.73 per cent to close at $71.23 a barrel.

Gold fell back under the key $2,000 mark as dollar and Treasury yields rose after investors tempered expectations for Fed interest rate cuts to happen before March, owing to the strong jobs data.

Spot gold fell nearly 1.6 per cent, or $31.90, to settle at $2,014.50 per ounce. The precious metal hit a session low of $1,994.49 earlier, with prices down 3.4 per cent to post their worst week in 10.

Updated: December 09, 2023, 9:55 AM