Stock Market Today: Tech Roller Coaster Leaves Investors Thrilled
Stocks, especially tech, appeared poised for yet another bloodletting on Friday despite a stellar February jobs report. Then came the turn.
My oh my, what a head fake that was.
What was shaping up to be another potential setback for the technology sector and the rest of the stock market today turned into a roaring rebound into the weekend.
On Friday, the Labor Department reported that February nonfarm payrolls improved by 379,000 – robustly better than estimates for 200,000 jobs – and that unemployment had ticked lower, from 6.3% to 6.2%.
"The much better-than-expected payroll report continues the narrative that the economy is in recovery, and a resurgence in the services side of the economy is helping to drive it," Gene Goldman, chief investment officer at Cetera Investment Management, said earlier in the day. "Also, in a reversal to recent market dynamics, good news is good news as equity markets are poised to rally today."
It didn't seem like it at first, though.
The Nasdaq Composite declined by as much as 2.6% before midday, with the other major indices also spilling red ink. An afternoon recovery, led by the likes of Microsoft (MSFT, +2.2%) and Alphabet (GOOGL, +3.1%), flipped the tech-heavy index 1.6% in the green to 12,920.
Other action in the stock market today:
- The S&P 500 charged ahead by 2.0% to 3,841.
- The small-cap Russell 2000 improved by 2.1% to 2,192.
- U.S. crude oil futures popped yet again, by 3.5% to $66.09 per barrel – their highest prices since 2019.
- Gold futures slipped below the $1,700 mark, declining 0.1% to $1,698.50 per ounce.
- Bitcoin prices, like the rest of the market, took a dive but finished up, improving 1.7% to $49,169. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
How to Achieve a Smoother Ride
It's unlikely to be the end of recent volatility, but it's a glorious way to end a difficult week.
Given that the market has been largely living and dying by the direction of interest rates, "markets will be very tuned into the next FOMC meeting on March 17, and Chair Powell, for any guidance over the evolution of FOMC communications," says Rick Rieder, BlackRock's chief investment officer of Global Fixed Income. "They have said that they will communicate well in advance before shifting policy toward tapering and then ultimately raising rates, and we expect further clarification to emerge in the coming months."
"We would expect more clarification on the path of policy from the Fed in the coming weeks and months. Until then, though, expect more volatility, since markets hate uncertainty, as amply displayed over the past week."
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