NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock markets climbed on Friday to end the week higher as weaker-than-expected jobs growth minimized worries the Federal Reserve would hike rates sooner than later. Also helping the markets end the session positive, the Ukraine and pro-Russia forces signed a ceasefire agreement, easing geopolitical uncertainty which had hung over markets through the week.
By market close, the S&P 500
Nonfarm payrolls rose by 142,000 in August from an upwardly revised 212,000 in July. The reading was lower than the 225,000 increase economists had expected for August and the smallest gain this year. The labor force participation rate remained low at 62.8% in August, essentially unchanged since April. As expected, the joblessness rate inched down to 6.1% from July's 6.2%.
"The worse-than-expected jobs number makes many believe that an increase in rates may be delayed some," said Schaeffer's Investment Research's senior equity analyst Joe Bell.
While the headlines numbers were at odds with the recent string of strong ISM reports and inspired views that they would give Fed Chair Janet Yellen more latitude in deciding when to raise rates, Voya Investment Management's senior market strategist Karyn Cavanaugh warned that August is a "tricky" month with a lot of seasonal hiring.
"I suspect we could see some revisions. The path back to normal will be paved with some volatility but the overall market trend is up. The data is too positive to support a delay," she said.