US Stocks Rise as March Jobs Data Beat Expectations & Trump Sees US-China Deal Within Four Weeks


US stocks rose slightly after better-than-expected US jobs data calmed nerves frayed by recent recession worries and as President Donald Trump signaled a trade deal with China could be in the offing within four weeks, putting a spring in the step of the dollar.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 29.24 points intraday — or 0.11% — along with the Nasdaq and S&P 500 Indexes, which were also higher by at least 0.30% as energy and health care stocks led the gainers.

The 10-year bond yield struggled to find direction. It slipped by 1 basis point to an estimated 2.50% but stayed comfortably above the 2.35% level it had hit earlier this month, pushing the spread between the 3-month Treasury bills and 10-year notes into negative territory for the first time since 2007.

Job creation rebounded strongly in March as data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show Friday nonfarm payrolls expanded by 196,000. That result compared with the market expectation of an increase of 175,000 and a shock addition of just 20,000 in February due to a one-off US government shutdown. Average hourly earnings were relatively muted, up 0.1%, while the unemployment rate stood pat at 3.8%.

Before a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, President Trump was cited as saying in media reports that a number of tough issues holding back a US-China trade deal had been resolved but differences still remain. “Within the next four weeks or maybe less, maybe more, whatever it takes, something very monumental could be announced,” Trump was cited as saying.

The dollar jumped to a three-week high against the Japanese yen to $111.72 and also strengthened against the pound, which slipped as the UK’s Office of National Statistics reported data that showed the nation’s productivity conundrum deepened as labor costs rose for the 15th straight quarter, while output per unit of costs – a measure of productivity — declined for the second consecutive quarter in October-December 2018.

The euro held its ground against the dollar as the French trade deficit narrowed sequentially by EUR200 million to EUR4 billion in February, surprising investors who expected the gap would expand to EUR4.7 billion. Additionally, German industrial production rose by 0.7% in March, beating market expectations.

In corporate news, shares of Tesla (APA) increased by 2% intraday after CEO Elon Musk and the Securities and Exchange Commission were reported to have been told by a judge to resolve the issues in the upcoming two weeks. The Dow Chemicals Company (DOW) slipped 4.5% to $57.04, the most in the S&P 500 and DJIA indexes, after JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) initiated coverage of the stock with an underweight rating and a $49 price target.

Crude oil was up $0.58 to $62.65 per barrel. Natural gas was up $0.01 to $2.65 per 1 million BTU. Gold was up $1.60 to $1,296.10 an ounce, while silver was up $0.05 to $15.14 an ounce. Copper was down $0.01 to $2.90 per pound.

Among energy ETFs, the United States Oil Fund was up 0.10% to $13.02 with the United States Natural Gas Fund up 0.11% to $23.36. Among precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF was down 0.29% to 22.40 while SPDR Gold Shares was down 0.12% to $121.99. The iShares Silver Trust was down 0.21% to $14.19.