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Stocks gain as tepid jobs report stokes hopes for low rates

U.S. stocks are jumping Friday morning even though employers added fewer jobs in August than investors expected. That makes it a bit less likely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates later this year. Utility companies made the biggest gains, while energy companies rose as the price of oil rose for the first time this week.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 84 points, or 0.5 percent, to 18,502 as of 10:27 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,180. The Nasdaq composite climbed 29 points, or 0.6 percent, to 5,256.

JOBS: The government said U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in August, a bit less than economists expected. Compared to the last few months, job gains slowed in most major industries and wages only rose a little. While the U.S. is on a long streak of job growth, reports over the last few months have been inconsistent: growth was weak in April and May, then picked up in June and July. That’s left investors somewhat worried about the health of the U.S. economy and the job market.

FED AHEAD: The Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December and wants to raise them further. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week that another increase was growing more likely, although investors already did not expect an increase this month. The weakening jobs figures make it less likely the Federal Reserve will raise rates at its remaining meetings this year, and since investors are uneasy about the state of the economy, that was something of a relief.

UTILITIES: Utility companies made the biggest gains, as low interest rates make them more appealing. Utilities are known for paying large dividends, similar to bonds, and lower interest rates mean lower bond yields. NextEra Energy gained $1.83, or 1.5 percent, to $122.83 and American Electric rose 55 cents to $64.96.

ENERGY: U.S. benchmark crude oil futures rose 97 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $44.13 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, added $1.10, or 2.4 percent, to $46.55 a barrel in London. U.S. crude had fallen 9 percent over the last four days. Anadarko Petroleum added $1.43, or 2.7 percent, to $54.97 and Halliburton picked up 77 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $43.80.

VERY FAR DOWN: VeriFone Systems, which makes terminals used in electronic payments, slumped after it disclosed disappointing revenue and cut its forecast for the year. The company said adoption of chip payment cards continues to go slower than expected. The stock fell $3.76, or 18.7 percent, to $16.35.

A REAL LEMON: Sales for athletic apparel maker Lululemon fell short of estimates, and its forecast for the rest of the year was somewhat disappointing. The stock plunged $6.94, or 9.1 percent, to $69.72.

BIOGEN RISES: Drugmaker Biogen added $9.70, or 3.2 percent, to $315.73 after the company said its early Alzheimer’s disease treatment aducanumab will get a faster review from the Food and Drug Administration. That could help Biogen bring the drug to the market sooner, assuming it meets its goals in clinical studies.

BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 1.61 percent from 1.57 percent. The dollar rose to 104.04 yen from 103.32 yen and the euro edged down to $1.1172 from $1.1197.

OVERSEAS: The FTSE 100 in Britain jumped and France’s CAC 40 each jumped 1.6 percent. In Germany, the DAX climbed 0.9 percent. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index finished practically unchanged while South Korea’s Kospi edged 0.3 percent higher. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 percent.

 

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