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Markets

Stock Market Today: Stunning Jobs Report Sends Stocks Aloft

Boeing leads the Dow again; Nasdaq finishes a hair away from all-time highs

Most everyone simply did not see this coming.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered an encouraging surprise Friday morning, when it reported that America's unemployment rate actually fell from 14.7% in April to 13.3% in May, shattering economists' expectations for a 19% reading. While we noted in our A Step Ahead e-letter that a number of statistical flukes likely helped the jobless rate, the report is nonetheless an encouraging signal of economic recovery -- one that Wall Street ran with to broad gains.

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Boeing (BA, +11.5%), Exxon Mobil (XOM, +8.1%) and Raytheon Technologies (RTX, +6.8%) led the Dow's 3.2% sprint to 27,110.

The Dow also received help from Apple (AAPL), which gained 2.9% to hit a new closing high of $331.50. And Apple's climb helped the Nasdaq Composite finish up 2.1% to 9,814 -- just three points away from its previous record of 9,817.18 set on Feb. 19, 2020. The S&P 500 closed up 2.6% to 3,193.

This might be one of the most difficult investing environments of our lifetimes. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is estimating a 53.8% year-over-year drop in U.S. GDP for the second quarter. FactSet estimates that corporate earnings will drop 43% year-over-year in Q2, 25% in Q3 and still 13% in Q4. And unemployment remains above 13%.

Yet the major indices, helped by considerable Fed support, economic-data momentum and perhaps investors’ fear of missing out, are in the midst of 40%-plus rallies off the bear-market lows.

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One strong piece of advice remains the same whether stocks are tanking or soaring: Keep the long view in mind. That could mean focusing on income stocks capable of paying you cash for decades down the road, or longer-term growth plays leveraging blooming technologies such as artificial intelligence.

However, if you think there are more returns to be squeezed out of the current heater, you have your choice of growth options -- for instance, these seven growth funds help you spread your risk across dozens if not hundreds of companies.

Stock investors, meanwhile, should consider these seven growth plays that the analysts have coalesced around. Based on average price targets from recent notes to clients, the pros believe these stocks, from mega-caps to small firms, have the potential to run anywhere from 17% to 63% higher over the next 12 months.

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