CHATTANOOGA, Tenn – Investors appear to be betting that the weaker jobs gains will put more pressure on the outgoing Trump administration and Congress to approve more stimulus before Joe Biden is inaugurated next month.
The Dow finished Friday up about 250 points, or 0.8%, and closed at a new record level above 30,200. The S&P 500 gained 0.9% to also hit a new record high while the Nasdaq was up 0.7% and reached a new all-time high as well.
Friday’s gains capped a solid week (and start to December) for the markets. The Dow was up 1% for the week while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq rose more than 1.5% and 2% respectively.
Smaller stocks rallied too. The Russell 2000 index was up 2.3% Friday and also reached a new peak. And the CNN Business Fear & Greed Index, which measures seven indicators of market sentiment, continues to show levels of “Extreme Greed.”
Friday’s jobs report, which showed that only 245,000 jobs were added last month compared to economists’ forecasts of 469,000 according to Refinitiv, is yet another stark reminder of just how much ground the economy needs to make up before it is back to pre-coronavirus levels.
Although the unemployment rate dipped to 6.7% in November, it is still well above the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% from February.
The number of people filing for weekly unemployment benefits remains stubbornly high. And federal benefits that were part of the CARES Act in March are set to expire at the end of the year.