April jobs report boosts stocks as trading stays quiet

New York Stock Exchange
FILE - This Oct. 4, 2014, file photo, shows the facade of the New York Stock Exchange. Stocks are modestly higher in early trading on Wall Street, Friday, May 5, 2017, after the government reported a pickup in hiring in April. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The U.S. government said hiring bounced back in April and stocks are slightly higher Friday as a quiet week of trading comes to a close. Energy companies are recovering along with oil prices. IBM is slumping after billionaire investor Warren Buffett said he sold a large part of his stake in the company.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor’s 500 index picked up 6 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,395 as of 2:50 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 29 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,980. The Nasdaq composite rose 13 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,088. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks added 4 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,393.

Stocks have moved gradually higher Friday afternoon. Major indexes have been very quiet over the last two weeks.

JOBS: Employers in the United States added 211,000 jobs in April, according to the Labor Department. That comes after slow hiring and economic growth over the first three months of the year. Investors may have been relieved but didn’t appear surprised by the development. The VIX, an index that is interpreted as a measure of how nervous investors are, remained near the 10-year lows it hit earlier this week.

THE QUOTE: Scott Wren, senior global equity strategist at Wells Fargo’s Investment Institute, said the April report was the latest in a long run of solid but mostly unexciting jobs reports. While many investors want to see stronger wage growth along with continued hiring, Wren said rising wages may cause trouble for the stock market if economic growth remains slow: the combination could squeeze company profits.

“The market is likely to be concerned about wage gains and the impact on corporate margins as we move into 2018,” he said.

CRUDE CONCERNS: Energy companies bounced back as the price of oil steadied. After steep losses the last two days, benchmark U.S. crude oil jumped 70 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $46.22 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, added 72 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $49.10 barrel in London. Oil prices have fallen hard as investors wonder if OPEC will extend a deal that trimmed oil production.

Occidental Petroleum rose $2.37, or 4.1 percent, to $60.39 and Baker Hughes gained $1.75, or 3 percent, to $59.16.

IBM GETS BUFFET-TED: IBM fell after Warren Buffett said he’s sold about 25 million shares of the technology and consulting company, about a third of the stake that his Berkshire Hathaway company had owned. Buffett started buying IBM stock in 2011. IBM faces stiff competition from companies including Microsoft and Amazon, which have focused on cloud computing services. IBM reached an all-time high of $215 in early 2013. It fell $4.22, or 2.7 percent, to $154.83 Friday. About a year ago the stock was worth less than $120 a share.

MATERIAL MOVEMENT: Basic materials makers advanced. Dow Chemical gained $1.52, or 2.5 percent, to $62.94 and Praxair rose $2.63, or 2.1 percent, to $125.85. Fertilizer maker CF Industries climbed $1.59, or 5.9 percent, to $28.66.

BLEMISHED: Cosmetics maker Revlon plunged after its sales in North America fell during the first quarter. That affected all parts of its business, as its consumer and professional divisions both reported smaller profits and lower sales than they did a year ago. Revlon bought Elizabeth Arden in September and its sales were about the same as they had been a year ago. The stock gave up $5.70, or 22.6 percent, to $19.55.

HEALTH CARE SLUMP: Biotech drug companies slipped. Incyte sank $2.68, or 2.1 percent, to $122.32 and Biogen dropped $7.41, or 2.8 percent, to $261.19. Amgen fell $1.41 to $162.88.

BONDS: Bond prices held steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note remained 2.35 percent. High-dividend stocks did fairly well Friday as telecommunications companies recovered from a hard loss the day before, and utility companies also rose. Banks traded lower.

METALS: Gold dipped $1.70 to $1,226.90 an ounce. The precious metal fell more than 3 percent this week for its biggest decline since right after the presidential election. Silver lost 3 cents to $16.27 an ounce. Copper rose 2 cents to $2.53 a pound.

OTHER ENERGY TRADING: Wholesale gasoline rose 2 cents to $1.50 a gallon. Heating oil added 2 cents to $1.44 a gallon. Natural gas jumped 8 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $3.27 per 1,000 cubic feet.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 112.64 yen from 112.42 yen. The euro climbed $1.0997 from $1.0981.

OVERSEAS: France’s CAC 40 jumped another 1.1 percent as investors hoped centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron will be elected president over the weekend. The CAC 40 is at its highest level since early 2008. Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.7 percent and Germany’s DAX added 0.5 percent. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8 percent. Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed for holidays.

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AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/marley%20jay