Stocks closed out the first full trading week of December with a win on Friday as investors assessed the US monthly jobs report in a positive light, embracing the case that the Federal Reserve will start cutting interest rates next year. Stocks turned positive as market watchers saw more evidence of a soft landing for the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) rose 0.3% or more than 100 points, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) advanced 0.4%, notching a high for the year. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) gained nearly 0.5%. It was the sixth straight week of gains for the major indexes.
The US unemployment rate fell unexpectedly to 3.7% in November, the nonfarm payrolls report showed, reflecting signs that the labor market may not be cooling as quickly as many had initially thought.
Meanwhile, the economy added 199,000 jobs, up from the previous month’s reading, as striking auto workers and Hollywood actors came back to the workforce.
The report will serve as a test for stocks, which rallied as investors grew optimistic that the Fed’s rate hikes have peaked and a “soft landing” for the US economy is in the cards. Hints of labor market cooling in earlier data this week were taken as a sign the Fed’s inflation fight is paying off.