The Week In Review


The S&P 500 gained 0.5% Friday in a broad-based advance that was supported by strong employment data. The benchmark index advanced for the seventh straight session, increased its weekly gain to 2.1%, and closed within ten points of the 2900 level.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.2%), the Nasdaq Composite (+0.6%), and the Russell 2000 (+1.0%) extended their weekly gains to 1.9%, 2.7%, and 2.8%, respectively.


The S&P 500 energy sector (+1.7%) led the advance as oil prices ($63.10/bbl, +0.86, +1.4%) rose on labor market strength in the U.S. and heightened geopolitical risk in Venezuela and Libya. Conversely, the materials sector (-0.1%) was the lone group that finished lower.


Stocks began the day modestly higher after the release of the employment report and proceeded to drift sideways throughout the day. The March report featured solid nonfarm payrolls growth of 196,000 ( consensus 170,000) and no inflation pressure, as average hourly earnings growth decelerated to 3.2% yr/yr from 3.4% yr/yr in February. Friday's strong jobs report comes after the release of disappointing economic data earlier in the week.


Materials and financials were the best-performing sectors this week, rising 4.3% and 3.3%, respectively. Bank shares led the gains in financials. Morgan Stanley jumped more than 6% this week, while Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Citigroup all ended the week up more than 5%. J.P. Morgan Chase, meanwhile, gained 4%.


Stocks also got a boost this week as China and the U.S. appeared to make progress in trade negotiations.


This week's gains come as investors brace themselves for the upcoming earnings season, which is set to start next week with J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo among the companies set to report.

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