'Goldilocks' jobs data propels Wall St to best day in a month

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© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York© Reuters. Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Noel Randewich

(Reuters) – Wall Street jumped on Friday as moderate jobs growth in September offered relief from a spate of dismal economic data this week that has rankled markets and fueled concerns that the world’s largest economy may be sliding into a recession.

A rally in technology stocks led by Apple Inc (O:) also helped lift the benchmark indexes at the end of a volatile week. After losing about 3% over Tuesday and Wednesday, the S&P 500 () and Dow () were on course for their best session in a month.

The Labor Department’s report showed nonfarm payrolls increased by 136,000 last month and the unemployment rate dropped to a 50-year low, but manufacturing payrolls declined for the first time in six months.

“It’s sort of a Goldilocks report: it’s not strong enough to move the Federal Reserve away from cutting rates at the end of October, but it’s not weak enough to make you concerned about the labor market or the consumer,” said Shawn Snyder, head of investment strategy at Citi Personal Wealth Management in New York.

Bets the Fed will cut interest rates have surged this week after a dramatic contraction in U.S. manufacturing, cooling private sector hiring and a fall in service sector activity pointed to widening fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.

Traders see a 77.5% chance that the central bank will lower borrowing costs at its policy meeting later this month, up from 40% on Monday. The Fed cut rates in September for the second time this year and said future reductions would be “data-dependent.”

With fears related to the trade war and its effect on the U.S. economy weighing on sentiment, the S&P 500 is up 1% over the past 12 months, and it is down about 3% from its record high close in July.

“Although market participants have been selling stocks and buying bonds, at the end of the day you say, ‘Gee, I still have to have some return for my investment, and that’s going to come from stocks,'” said Tom Martin, senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments.

Apple Inc (O:) shares rose 2.8% after a report that the company would ramp up production of iPhone 11 models.

The S&P information technology index () climbed 1.5%, while the Philadelphia chip index () advanced 1.3%.

At 2:31 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average () was up 1.12% at 26,495.69 points, while the S&P 500 () gained 1.11% to 2,943.02.

The Nasdaq Composite () jumped 1.14% to 7,961.77.

HP Inc (N:) tumbled 10.1% after the computer maker said it would cut up to 16% of its workforce as part of a restructuring plan that would result in an overall charge of $1 billion.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.32-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.71-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 13 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 14 new highs and 59 new lows.

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