Stocks rise as investors cheer August jobs report

Stocks rise as investors cheer August jobs report”

Sept 1 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher in early afternoon trading on Friday, with the major indexes hovering near record levels, after a tepid August jobs report reduced the odds of another rate hike this year. The Labor Department said on Friday nonfarm payrolls increased by 156,000 last month, while economists had forecast an increase of 180,000. But that didn't change Wall Street's view of the still-growing economy.

They bet that will keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates too quickly.

Shares of major automakers climbed after the companies reported better-than-expected August sales and issued optimistic outlooks as Houston area residents replace cars and trucks after Hurricane Harvey.

Banks rose with bond yields and interest rates.

The pattern of slow but steady job gains and weak inflation has helped push stocks higher for years. But investors appeared to be pleased at the prospect the Federal Reserve will leave interest rates lower.

He said Friday's report was "like nearly every other jobs report we've seen over the last four years".

The Nasdaq Composite was up 9.46 points, or 0.15 percent, at 6,438.12. The Nasdaq composite gained 1.1 per cent, to 6,368.31 as technology companies rose for the third day in a row. Along with technology companies and consumer-focused firms, health care companies and banks finished higher.

The S&P 500 hovered near all-time highs as major stock indexes marked gains for a second straight week.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks advanced 8.29 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,413.57.

Six months ago, stocks made their biggest gain of the year as the S&P 500 jumped 1.4% on March 1.

While businesses continue to hire workers at a steady pace, inflation is well still below the Federal Reserve's target of 2 percent. But based on reports like Friday's, investors don't think that will happen.

Canadian yoga and leisure apparel maker Lululemon Athletica rose 7.2 percent on earnings beat. Still, the increase in bond yields and interest rates gave banks a boost.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.2 percent to finish at 19,691.47, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 added almost 0.2 percent to 5,724.60.

General Motors jumped 0.9 percent after reporting that August sales were up 7.5 percent over the same month a year ago. A record amount of rain left extensive flooding in Houston, the fourth-largest U.S. city, and the storm's slow movement to the north and east was raising flood risks elsewhere in Texas and in other states. Fiat Chrysler jumped 4.6 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude slipped 31 cents to $46.92 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, added 2 cents to $50.75 in London.

Wholesale gasoline prices have climbed because of rains and flooding in the Gulf Coast. The storm knocked out significant oil drilling and refining capacity, and on Tuesday, the largest US oil refinery shut down and the operator of a major pipeline carrying fuel to the East Coast said it was running at a reduced rate. On the Nasdaq, 1,711 issues rose and 1,033 fell.

The dollar rose to ¥110.24, from ¥109.98. The euro edged up to $1.1876 from $1.1885. France's CAC 40 gained 0.4 percent to 5,077.40. Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.4 percent to 27,970.30 and Seoul's Kospi lost 0.4 percent to 2,363.19.

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