Stocks Flat as Good Jobs Data Raises Inflation Worries

A surge in job creation last month was not enough to rally stocks, as any optimism among investors about what the data said about the health of the economy quickly gave way to concern about inflation.

The Labor Department said the U.S. economy added some 274,000 workers to payrolls in April, a full 100,000 more than most forecasts. The agency also raised earlier employment numbers for March and February, though the unemployment rate held steady at 5.2 percent, a sign that more workers are being enticed back into the labor market.

Inflation Worries

Stocks greeted the news by rising out of the gate, but by session’s end, fears that inflationary pressures would result from too-fast growth in the economy had won out, squelching any hopes for a rally.

Instead, the Dow gained just 5.02 points, or 0.05 percent, to close at 10,345.40. The Nasdaq gained 5.55 points, or 0.28 percent to 1,967.35, and the S&P 500 was up 0.75 points, or 0.06 percent to 1,171.35.

Still, the major markets posted gains for the week. The Dow added about 1.7 percent and the S&P 500 was up 1.5 percent, both posting their third consecutive week of gains. The Nasdaq was up more than 2 percent since last week.

Dollar, Oil

Though the jobs number did not fire up stock buyers, it did boost interest in the greenback. The dollar rose a full percent against the euro, its biggest one-day gain in six weeks.

Helping to pressure stocks was another rise in oil prices. Though recent increases have been modest in nature, oil did string together three straight sessions of higher prices to close out the week. Today, futures tacked on another 13 cents to close at US$50.96 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

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