Stock Market Today: Stocks Rise as Jarring Jobs Miss Cools Taper Talk

The Dow and S&P 500 ended the week at new highs after a big nonfarm payrolls miss eased anxiety the Fed will tighten the purse strings.

chart of stock price moving higher
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Stocks brushed off a dismal April jobs report Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index ending the week at new highs.

This morning's nonfarm payrolls update from the Labor Department showed the U.S. added 266,000 jobs last month, well below the nearly 1 million expected by economists, while the unemployment rate ticked higher to 6.1% from 6.0%. March figures were revised lower, too.

It wasn't all doom and gloom, though.

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"The payroll data does not suggest that the reopening is stalling," says Brian Timberlake, head of fixed income research at Voya Investment Management. "On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, 1.1 million jobs were added."

Plus, the slight rise in the unemployment rate occurred in conjunction with an increase in overall labor force participation. "As a result, the employment-to-population ratio – which we view as more representative of the current labor market dynamics – increased for the month from 57.8% to 57.9%."

So why exactly did stocks rise today? The disappointing jobs number will likely "give Fed Chair Powell some relief on the urgency to talk about tapering," says Timberlake. In other words, no changes to the central bank's bond-buying program and no interest-rate hikes quite yet.

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When the closing bell rang, the Dow was up 0.7% at 34,777, and the S&P 500 was 0.7% higher at 4,232 – both fresh peaks. The Nasdaq Composite finished strong, too, gaining 0.9% to 13,752.

Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 closed up 1.4% at 2,271.
  • Square (SQ (opens in new tab), +4.2%) was a big earnings winner today. The fintech firm reported higher-than-expected profit of 41 cents per share in its first quarter. Revenues, meanwhile, surged 266% year-over-year to $5.06 billion, thanks in part to a $3.5 billion boost from bitcoin.
  • Roku (ROKU (opens in new tab), +11.6%) also gained ground after its first-quarter results. The streaming name swung to a per-share profit of 54 cents, compared to a quarterly loss in the year prior. Revenues spiked 79% to $574.2 million – its highest quarterly growth rate on record.
  • U.S. crude oil futures gained 0.3% to end at $64.90 per barrel.
  • Gold futures rose 0.9% to settle at $1,831.30 an ounce – their highest finish since Feb. 10.
  • The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) fell 9.2% to 16.69.
  • Bitcoin prices rose 2.7% to $57,658.05. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)

us stock market indexes may 7

(Image credit: YCharts)

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With over a decade of experience writing about the stock market, Karee Venema is an investing editor and options expert at Kiplinger.com. She joined the publication in April 2021 after 10 years of working as an investing writer and columnist at Schaeffer's Investment Research. In her previous role, Karee focused primarily on options trading, as well as technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis.