Light Jobs Data Soothes Wall Street

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Skewed by the

UPS

strike though it may have been, Wall Street is pretty pleased by the August jobs report.

"Bonds are up. We'll take it," says one trader. "There's been a little sigh of relief. It's kind of been a waiting game for the last couple of days.

Nonfarm payrolls

came in at 49,000 for August, well below

Reuters

consensus estimates for them to hit 65,000; the

unemployment rate

ticked up to 4.9%, above estimates for it to remain at 4.8%; and hourly wages came in at $12.29, up a nickel and in line with estimates.

Stocks are set to head higher on those numbers.

"The market was waiting for this number," says another trader. "It looks like we're going to have a nice day. There's a good, positive tone to the market. We're probably going to pass 8000 today, if I had to make a bet."

As of 9:00 a.m. (EDT), the

S&P 500

futures are up 5.00, putting them well above fair value and indicating a positive open. The 30-year Treasury bond is up 20/32 at 97 17/32, dropping the yield to 6.57%.

Smith Barney

cut its ratings on

Procter & Gamble

(PG) - Get Report

, and

Gillette

(G) - Get Report

to maintain from outperform and cut

Avon

(AVP) - Get Report

and

Colgate-Palmolive

(CL) - Get Report

on concern that those companies' Southeast Asian profits will be hurt badly by the region's currency crisis. Thursday

The Street.com looked at the crisis' effect on U.S. companies, and suggested that Procter & Gamble would be among the next to get downgraded.

Amoco

(AN) - Get Report

plans to merge its southern South American natural gas and oil business with that of closely held

Bridas

, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

Business Week

reports that its research suggests that the

Fed

won't raise rates anytime soon. Let's hope that its economic policy crystal ball is better than its merger and acquisition crystal ball.

Japanese stocks were mixed. The

Nikkei

edged higher, closing up 35.11 at 18,650.17, but decliners slightly beat out advancers. Many investors are treading water ahead of Sept. 30, the half year mark in the Japanese fiscal year.

Hong Kong stocks moved higher, helped by the recovery of many Southeast Asian currencies and markets. (The Malaysian and Indonesian stock markets, both gaining over 10%, were the big winners.) The

Hang Seng

climbed 364.38 to close at 14,563.55.

German stocks posted gains in quiet trading. The

Dax

closed up 28.99 at 4100.67.

British stocks which were stalled ahead of the U.S. jobs report, are responding nicely. The

FTSE

is up 23.10 at 5014.40. As in the U.S., the London market has seen some broadening lately -- second tier stocks continue to keep the pace today.

This story originally published Sept. 5, 1997.