US stocks ended higher on Friday, lifting the S&P 500 to a fresh closing high, after a weaker-than-expected jobs report was taken as a sign that the Federal Reserve will not begin raising interest rates anytime soon.
Stocks had traded lower after the government reported fewer US jobs were created in August than expected.
By early afternoon, however, major indexes turned positive, led by utilities. Fed officials have made it clear that they see the labor market as still struggling, which partially justifies keeping rates at rock-bottom levels.
“The nonfarm payroll numbers fell well short of expectations, but the market reaction suggests a stronger-than-consensus number might have been met with a downward bias in equities,” said Jim Russell, senior equity strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Cincinnati.
“What we saw today called off the dogs to some degree and took the heat down a notch or two from investors’ concern about rate hikes.”
Utilities gained 1.2 percent as investors turned to the group for their income appeal with bond yields falling in response to the payrolls data. Utility shares often benefit as bond yields fall because the companies pay relatively rich dividends.
Power generator NRG Energy Inc rose 1.9 percent to USD 30.89, and XCEL Energy Inc advanced 1.9 percent to USD 32.48.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 67.78 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,137.36. The S&P 500 was up 10.06 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,007.71. The Nasdaq Composite added 20.61 points, or 0.45 percent, to 4,582.90.
For the week, the Dow and the S&P each gained 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.06 percent.
Family Dollar Stores Inc shares lost 1.2 percent to USD 79.11 after the discount retailer rejected Dollar General Corp’s sweetened takeover bid. Shares of Dollar General fell 2.3 percent to USD 63.01.
Apple shares edged up 0.9 percent to USD 98.97 after the company said it planned to add new security features to its iCloud service.
Retailers lost ground. Michael Kors shares lost 4.5 percent to USD 76.39 after the company announced a secondary offering of 11.6 million shares.
Gap Inc shares fell 4.2 percent to USD 44.65 after worse-than-expected same-store-sales in August.
About 5.2 billion shares traded on all US platforms, according to BATS exchange data, compared with the five-day average of 5.1 billion.