Stocks and cryptocurrencies were on the rise Friday even as the latest labor report showed a resilient market, a sign the Federal Reserve likely will hold interest rates at their current level for longer than previously anticipated.
Even amid a series of high-profile layoff announcements in the tech and media sectors, initial jobless claims filed last week came in slightly lower than expected. Initial unemployment claims dropped 4% last week from the week prior, according to data from the Department of Labor.
“It is worth noting that actual claims last week were 6 percent lower than those for the comparable week in 2020, just before the Pandemic Crisis,” Nicolas Colas, co-founder of Data Trek Research, said. “We’ve long thought that claims must start to increase at least modestly at some point soon. Thus far, that has not happened.”
Revised Consumer Price Index data also came in Friday, showing that prices rose less than initially reported in December, and rose slightly more than previously thought in October and November.
Prices of interest-rate futures showed the likelihood of a March rate cut at around 17%, down from about 40% last month, according to data from CME Group.
Stocks showed similar resilience, with the S&P 500 closing above 5,000 for the first time ever, positioning it 1.4% higher over the past five trading days. The Nasdaq Composite surged 1% at the close and is trading up 2.4% over the week.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated in January that a strong labor market will lead central bankers to hold rates higher, while an increased level of inflation would call for a faster timeline for cuts.
“If we saw an unexpected weakening in…certainly in the labor market, that would certainly weigh in on cutting sooner,” Powell said after the latest rate decision in January. “Absolutely. And if we saw inflation being stickier or higher, those sorts of things would argue for moving later.”
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