U.S. stocks hit fresh record highs again Friday, with the Nasdaq passing the 16,000 point mark for the first time ever, as investors add risk in the wake of the Federal Reserve's dovish take on rates and stronger-than-expected October jobs gains.
The Bureau for Labor Statistics said 531,000 new jobs were created last month, with headline unemployment rate falling to a post-pandemic low of 4.6%. The October tally was firmly ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 450,000 and the strongest in several months.
Stocks were given an added early boost, as well, from data showing Pfizer's (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report developing COVID antiviral pill cut the risk of hospitalization and death in trial participants by 89% in what CEO Albert Bourla called a "game changer" for the global pandemic.
Both the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 extended their run of record highs to six consecutive sessions last night, powered by solid gains in the semiconductor sector and broader moves north for tech stocks as benchmark 10-year note yields retreated to 1.52% following Fed Chair Jerome Powell's pledge to be "patient" when it comes to future rates hikes.
Focus shifts Friday, however, to the October payroll reading, with economists looking for a topline addition of 450,000 net new jobs and a headline unemployment rate of 4.7%
What may prove more troubling for both the Fed, however, is the fact that those likely won't constitute evidence of a 'substantial rebound' in labor force participation, indicating slower-than-expected employment growth. At the same time, wages may continue to accelerate as companies entice workers with overtime, bonuses and added benefits amid one of the most severe shortages on record.
Average hourly earnings rose 0.4% on the month, and 4.9% on the year, but reports of hiring pushes from some of the country's biggest companies, as well as ongoing industrial act companies like Deere & Co. (DE) - Get Deere & Company Report and Kellogg (K) - Get Kellogg Company (K) Report, could lift that figure even higher, stoking an already-sear set of inflation figures heading into the final two months of the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was marked 320 points higher in the opening hour of trading, while the S&P 500 gained 32 points for a fresh-all time high. The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite gained 70 points to pass 16,000 for the first time on record.
In terms of individual stocks, Peloton (PTON) - Get Peloton Interactive, Inc. Class A Report looks shed nearly $8 billion in value after it slashed its 2022 sales forecast amid a slump in post-pandemic demand for its home fitness equipment.
Pfizer soared 10.35% to $47.88 following release of its COVID pill trial data, while rival Merck & Co. (MRK) - Get Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK) Report -- which submitted and EUA for its own antiviral last month -- fell 8.3% to $83.00 each
Google was marked 0.5% higher at $2,983.30 each, pegging the tech giant's market value at just under $2 trillion.
Pinterest (PINS) - Get Pinterest, Inc. Class A Report jumped 3.8% after the online visual-inspiration site posted better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and revenue despite a decline in monthly users and the rollout of Pinterest TV.
In other markets, global oil prices edged modestly higher following yesterday's decision by OPEC leaders to reject calls from President Joe Biden to boost production, with the cartel instead sticking to plans for a modest output increase of 400,000 barrels per day.
WTI futures contracts for December delivery were marked 67 cents higher at $79.48 per barrel, while Brent contracts for January delivery, the global pricing benchmark, rose 44 cents to $80.98 per barrel.
In overseas trading, a dovish European Central Bank, alongside the ongoing strength of the third quarter earnings season, pushed the Stoxx 600 0.34% higher to a fresh record peak of 484.86 points in mid-day trading in Frankfurt.
Overnight in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 closed 0.61% lower on the session at 29,611.57 points while the region-wide MSCI ex-Japan index fell 0.3%.