Stocks were lower Friday as investors worried about increased tensions between Washington and Beijing and all eyes turn to Washington as Republicans and Democrats continue negotiations on a coronavirus stimulus package.
And then there's the jobs report.
The U.S. economy added a better-than-expected 1.8 million jobs last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday, pulling the headline unemployment rate to 10.2%. But the pace of hiring slowed from the previous month amid a surge in coronavirus infections and new business closures.
The BLS said payrolls increased by 1.763 million, well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 1.58 million but sharply slower than the 4.791 million confirmed for the month of June. The gains clipped the headline unemployment rate to 10.2%, down from 11.1% in June. Average hourly earnings, the BLS said, rose 0.2% from last month to $29.32.
"The 1.8M jobs gained in July will take a little pressure off of the ongoing negotiations in Washington. There’s still urgency, of course, but 10-year Treasury yields moving from .53% to .54% indicate that at least in the government debt markets the expectation of lower interest rates is presently neutral," said Peter Earle, Research Fellow at American Institute for Economic Research.
Jeff Marks, senior analyst for Jim Cramer's Action Alerts Plus charitable portfolio, noted that while the jobs result was a positive surprise, it was overshadowed by congressional failure to reach a stimulus deal and fears of rising tension between the U.S. and China.