Dow, S&P 500 Reach New Record Highs On Strong Economic Data

With traders returning to their desks following the long holiday weekend, stocks have moved mostly higher in morning trading on Monday. The advance on the day has lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 to new record intraday highs.

In recent trading, the major averages have reached new highs for the session. The Dow is up 362.78 points or 1.1 percent at 33,515.99, the Nasdaq is up 180.01 points or 1.3 percent at 13,660.12 and the S&P 500 is up 49.95 points or 1.2 percent at 4,069.82.

The rally on Wall Street comes as traders finally have an opportunity to react to the monthly jobs report, which was released while the markets were closed on Friday.

The closely watched report from the Labor Department showed employment in the U.S. spiked by much more than expected in the month of March.

The Labor Department said non-farm payroll employment surged up by 916,000 jobs in March after climbing by an upwardly revised 468,000 jobs in February.

Economists had expected employment to jump by 647,000 jobs compared to the addition of 379,000 jobs originally reported for the previous month.

The bigger than expected increase in employment reflected widespread job growth, with employment in the leisure and hospitality sector once again leading the way.

The stronger than expected job growth resulted in a continued decrease by the unemployment rate, which fell to 6.0 percent in March from 6.2 percent in February. The drop matched expectations.

With the decrease, the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since hitting 4.4 percent in March of 2020, when coronavirus lockdowns were just starting to take effect.

Stocks saw further upside following the release of a report from the Institute for Supply Management showing its reading on activity in the service sector soared to an all-time high in March.

The ISM said its Services PMI surged up to 63.7 in March from 55.3 in February, with a reading above 50 indicating growth. Economists had expected the index to rise to 58.5.

“Respondents’ comments indicate that the lifting of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-related restrictions has released pent-up demand for many of their respective companies’ services,” said Anthony Nieves, Chair of the ISM Services Business Survey Committee.

Airline stocks have moved sharply higher over the course of the morning, with the NYSE Arca Airline Index skyrocketing by 3.9 percent.

Substantial strength has also emerged among steel stocks, as reflected by the 2.5 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Steel Index. The index has reached its best intraday level in well over nine years.

Software, computer hardware and gold stocks are also seeing significant strength, moving higher along with most of the other major sectors.

Energy stocks are among the few groups bucking the uptrend, with a steep drop by the price of crude oil weighing on the sector. Crude for May delivery is tumbling $1.64 to $59.82 a barrel.

In overseas trading, many stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region were closed on Monday, although Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index advanced by 0.8 percent and South Korea’s Kospi rose by 0.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are closed on the day in observance of Easter Monday.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved to the downside in reaction to the upbeat economic data. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 4.1 basis points at 1.720 percent.

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