FOX Business: The Power to Prosper
Not even January's underwhelming jobs report could deter the bulls on Friday as the Dow advanced for the fifth day in a row and the Nasdaq Composite landed at its best level since November 2007 despite new data revealing surprisingly weak job growth.
Wall Street had high hopes the government's monthly payroll figure would confirm recent indicators that have showed the U.S. economic recovery has gained momentum, even in the labor markets. Yet Friday's data revealed employers added about 100,000 fewer jobs than Wall Street had been expecting.
"I think we maintain an upward momentum. It was such a shocking [jobs] number so people are going to go back and try to figure out exactly what happened," NYSE trader Ben Willis of Sunrise Securities told FOX Business.
Until a late-day mini rally, the bulls and bears had been in a tug-of-war, with the markets weaving in and out of positive territory for much of the session.
Despite the jobs report, it was still a successful week for the bulls as the Dow surged 268 points -- its best performance since early December -- and ended the week above the psychologically-important 12000 level for the first time since June 2008. In fact, the blue chips landed in the green for the week for the ninth time in the past 10 weeks.
It was an even better week for the Nasdaq, which leaped 3.07% -- its best week since mid-September -- and closed in territory unseen since November 6, 2007. Driven by red-hot tech stocks like eBay (EBAY) and Apple (AAPL), the index has surged 32% since July.
The Labor Department said the U.S. added just 36,000 jobs in January, badly missing consensus calls for an addition of 140,000 jobs. Private-sector jobs grew by just 50,000, significantly less that the 187,000 jobs the ADP private-sector employment report forecasted on Wednesday.
The government also said the unemployment rate slid to 9%, the lowest level since April 2009 and well below the 9.4% from December. The Labor Department blamed the anemic job growth in part on the weather, but the report revealed an alarming plunge in the number of people in the labor force, likely due to frustration in finding a job.
Meanwhile, Wall Street continues to shrug off the situation in Egypt, which has been paralyzed civil unrest for more than 10 days. For the most part, the markets overcome fears the unrest there will spill over to other oil-producing nations and or shut down the crucial Suez Canal.
Underscoring the fading fears about Egypt, crude oil, which relies on the Suez Canal to be transported out of the region, slumped $1.51 a barrel, or 1.67%, to $89.03. Gold slid $4.00 a troy ounce, or 0.30%, to $1,348.30.
U.S. markets were also keeping an eye on the bond markets, where the yield on the 10-year Treasury bill jumped to its highest level since March 2010 amid growing economic hopes and signs of inflation.
Aetna (AET) leaped 12% after beating the Street with a non-GAAP profit of 63 cents a share, issuing a bullish 2011 guidance and sharply raising its dividend. The health-care company said it will now pay a dividend of 15 cents a share each quarter, up from just 4 cents a year previously.
Tyson Foods (TSN) soared 6% after beating the Street with an 86% surge in fourth-quarter profits and non-GAAP EPS of 75 cents a share. Sales leaped 15% to $7.6 billion. Analysts had been calling for EPS of just 62 cents on $7.1 billion in revenue.
PulteGroup (PHM) widened its fourth-quarter loss to 44 cents a share as its revenue tumbled 32% to $1.2 billion. The No. 2 U.S. home builder suffered a 19% decline in new orders to 3,044 homes.
JDSU (JDSU) surged 27% a day after blowing away estimates with a non-GAAP profit of 29 cents a share on $473.5 million in revenue. The networking-gear manufacturer had been expected to earn just 19 cents a share on $438.4 million. JDSU, which used to be known as JDS Uniphase, also issued upbeat guidance.
The U.K.'s FTSE 100 rose 0.23% to 5997.38, Germany's DAX gained 0.31% to 7216.21 and France's CAC 40 advanced 0.26% to 4047.21.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 jumped 1.08% to 10543.50, Hong Kong's Hang Seng and China's Shanghai Composite were closed.