The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) traded comfortably higher throughout the day, as investors celebrated a round of stronger-than-expected employment data. While a significant, fiscal-cliff induced drop in consumer sentiment tempered the optimism around midday, the blue chips picked up steam again in the final hour of trading. However, not all was rosy on Wall Street; Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) led a tech-sector retreat, dragging the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) into the red for the week.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) ended higher for a third session in a row, tacking on 81.1 points, or 0.6%, to settle just off an intraday peak. Among the index's 30 blue chips, just six sat out the rally; Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) finished flat, while Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) paced the five laggards with a 1% drop. On the flip side, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) led the bullish majority with a 2.6% gain. For the week, the Dow advanced 1%, ending north of its 10-week moving average for the first time in two months.
The S&P 500 Index (SPX) also ended near a session high, gaining 4.1 points, or 0.3%. For the week, the broad-market barometer advanced 0.1%. On the other hand, the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMP) spent most of the day in the red, surrendering 11.2 points, or 0.4%, and bringing its weekly deficit to 1.1%.
The CBOE Market Volatility Index (VIX) finished roughly 4.1% lower, relatively flat with last week's close.
A Trader's Take
In summary, "It was all about jobs this morning, as the nonfarm payrolls number and unemployment rate came in better than expected," said Senior Equity Analyst Joe Bell. "Markets initially responded with a nice bounce, but were unable to get much follow-through. By the end of the day, stocks were pretty mixed, as technology lagged and big-caps led."
More specifically, "The nonfarm payrolls increase of 146,000 had to be one of the best things about today's market, as it came in well above the estimated 80,000 jump," he added. "Most sectors responded favorably to this jobs report, but Apple and many other technology stocks continued to struggle."
Economic and Earnings News:
Nonfarm payrolls grew by a seasonally adjusted 146,000 in November, according to the Labor Department, as Superstorm Sandy did not "substantively" impact the national jobs market. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate backpedaled to 7.7% from October's perch at 7.9%. Economists expected a payrolls increase of just 80,000 on 7.9% joblessness. However, payrolls for September and October were downwardly revised by a total of 49,000.
The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index fell to 74.5 in early December, down from November's final reading of 82.7. The pullback was far steeper than anticipated, as economists expected the index to arrive at 82.0. The sentiment gauge is now resting at its lowest level since August.
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