U.S. stocks staged their first notable rally of 2023 to close the week higher Friday after December employment data showed wage growth decelerated last month. Investors perceived the release as a sign Federal Reserve officials may ease their rate-hiking campaign.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) jumped 2.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) added 700 points, or 2.1%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) surged 2.6%. All three major averages were on pace to end the week with losses before Friday's big gains.
The Labor Department's final jobs report of 2022 showed the U.S. economy added 223,000 payrolls last month while the unemployment rate fell to 3.5%. Economists had expected readings of 200,000 and 3.7%, respectively.
Employment has moderated in recent months, but hiring remains momentous despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts to quell a tight labor market that has placed upward pressure on wages and contributed to stubborn inflation.
"With over 1.8 unfilled jobs for every unemployed person, investors should expect higher rates for longer after today’s release," Lazard Chief Market Strategist Ron Temple said in a note. "As long as the labor market remains this tight, the Fed cannot rest assured that inflation will return to its 2% target."
Meanwhile, the ISM’s non-manufacturing PMI fell below the 50 threshold for the first time since early into the pandemic two years ago. The gauge of services activity in the U.S. fell to 49.6 last month from 56.5 in November. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected a print of 55.0.
Beleaguered Tesla (TSLA) pared a loss of as much as 7% earlier in the session after the electric carmaker slashed prices in China following a December drop in deliveries. Shares closed up 2.5%.
The starting price for Model 3 was cut to 229,000 yuan, or around $33,000, while prices on the Model Y have been lowered to 259,900 yuan, or $37,886, according to Tesla's website.
Elsewhere in markets, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) shares surged 16.8% after The Wall Street Journal reported former chief executive Vince McMahon will return to explore a sale of the business. McMahon retired in July 2022 following a misconduct probe.
Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY) slid another 22.5% on Friday after revealing in a statement the previous day that the company was exploring bankruptcy as it runs out of cash. On Thursday, shares tanked 30% following the announcement.
Costco (COST) stock gained 7.3%, emerging from a six-month low after the bulk retailer released upbeat December sales data. Revenue last month came in at $23.8 billion, up 7% year over year, while total comparable store sales grew 5.5%, beating analyst expectations of 5%. Costco was Yahoo Finance's company of the year.
Finally, Biogen (BIIB) shares closed 2.8% higher after the FDA granted accelerated approval to the biotech company and its partner, Japanese firm Eisai, for their new Alzheimer’s drug. Trading was briefly halted for news pending.
In commodities markets, oil prices rebounded Friday morning after a gloomy start to the year that saw crude futures plunge as much as 10% this week. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, the U.S. benchmark closed at $73.69.
Outside of the main monthly jobs report, a bevy of other labor market updates this week suggested hiring remains strong and job openings are still high. For investors, the figures suggested labor conditions remain tight enough for the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates, sending stocks lower.
In the previous trading session, all three major averages shed more than 1% after the ADP National Employment report showed private payrolls grew by 235,000 jobs in December, while filings for unemployment insurance fell to the lowest since September.
"Last year, it was the Fed versus the markets — they needed valuations to come down, they wanted equities to go down, they wanted bonds to go down, they wanted housing prices to go down — they got that," David Waddell, CEO of eponymous firm Waddell and Associates told Yahoo Finance Live on Wednesday. "This year, it's going to be the Fed versus employers, and what the Fed has told employers is, 'We're not going to stop until you fire two million people.'"
Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc
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