US stocks rally as market bets on moderating Fed policy

New York (AFP): Wall Street stocks engineered their first rally of 2023 on Friday after data suggested a slowing US economy, easing the pressure for more Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up 2.1 percent at 33,630.61, a gain of about 700 points.

The broad-based S&P 500 jumped 2.3 percent to 3,895.08, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index surged 2.6 percent to 10,569.29.
All 11 indices of the S&P 500 finished in positive territory, with markets cheering a drop in the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note, a proxy for US interest rates.

“We’re still in a bad news is good news type of market reaction,” said Nick Reece, a vice president at Merk Investments.

The much-anticipated monthly government jobs report was solid, with the US economy adding a better-than-expected 223,000 jobs in December and unemployment dipping to 3.5 percent.

But analysts pointed to a tempering of wage growth, which was up 4.6 percent on a 12-month basis through December, compared with the 4.8 percent reading for the prior month.

That was followed by a surprisingly poor services sector report from the Institute for Supply Management.

The report showed the first contraction since spring of 2020, with the gauge of activity hitting 49.6 percent, and its business activity index and new orders index both plunging.

The ISM report was “very weak and supports the idea that the service part of the economy is finally breaking,” said trading platform Oanda’s Edward Moya.