Stocks Ready to Rally After Jobs Data

With market sentiment shakier than it's been in a long time, the relatively benign data come at a crucial time.
Author:
Publish date:

The

ne plus ultra

of economic data is out, and it looks benign enough to let stocks extend yesterday's rally to the early part of today's session.

The

Labor Department

reported payrolls increased by 416,000 jobs in March, confounding economists in the

Reuters

poll who predicted 376,000 new jobs. But about 290,000 of those extra jobs were created by the government to conduct the

Census

. The jobless rate stayed steady at 4.1%.

Hourly wages gained 0.4%, a tenth of a point higher than expected. But stock-futures traders haven't been fazed at all. At 9:05 a.m. EDT, the

S&P 500 futures

were up 10.5, about 10 points above fair value and indicating some positive sentiment. The

Nasdaq 100

futures, meanwhile, were up a handsome 65 points.

"People were positioning themselves to be long going into this," said Jay Meagrow, vice president of trading at

McDonald

in Cleveland. "So I think we'll get some buying out of that, at least."

After inching off its lows, the bond market was back where it was an hour ago. The 10-year note was lately down 9/32 to 103 31/32 and yielding 5.960%.

The employment numbers come at a pivotal time. Sentiment is clearly fragile after the recent market volatility. Investors have been

pulling out of equity funds -- especially tech-focused funds -- for the first time in a long time.

"I can see us holding up today," Meagrow said. "It's the best tone we've had in a couple of weeks."

European stocks were moving higher along with U.S. stock futures in afternoon trading. The Paris

CAC

was up 52.43 to 6276.45, while Frankfurt's

Xetra Dax

was 41.91 higher to 7488.12. London's

FTSE

was up 79.7 points, or 1.2%, to 6530.8.

The euro was trading at $0.9551.

The

Nasdaq's

second-straight positive session helped Asian

markets feel better about tech and telecoms overnight.

In Hong Kong, the

Hang Seng

was up 450.29 points, or 2.7%, to 16,941.68 as foreign investors put cash into index heavyweights and Net stocks.

Tokyo finally managed to reverse four days of losses, but gains in electronics-component makers and telecom shares were offset by another fall by

Softbank

, which announced that it lost money last year. The

Nikkei

rose 29.20 points to 20,252.81.

The dollar crept up gently to around 105.00 yen in Tokyo trading. It was lately sitting at 105.27yen.

For a look at stocks in the preopen news, see Stocks to Watch, published separately.