Wall Street Rises to New Highs, Shrugging off Weak Jobs Report; Dow up 75 Pts

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Investing.com — U.S. stock markets opened at fresh record highs again on Friday, set to round off a remarkable week on a high note despite the drama in Washington DC and the weakest labor market report in eight months.

By 9:40 AM ET (1440 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 76 points, or 0.2%, at 31,117 points. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.7%. All three had closed at record highs again on Thursday. 

The market took in its stride figures showing that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. The development had been largely anticipated after private payrolls processor ADP’s report on Wednesday, and market participants were mollified by a big upward revision to November’s hiring numbers. The jobless rate stayed at 6.7% of the workforce.

The risks to the economy from a sharp rise in unemployment appear to have been reduced in the near term by the Democrats’ victory in Georgia’s two Senate runoff elections. Their consequent control of the upper chamber means that the incoming administration of Joe Biden will have less resistance to replacing the incomes of those who find themselves out of a job due to Covid-19.  BlueBay Asset Management’s chief investment officer Mark Dowding said he expects between $1 and $2 trillion in extra fiscal spending that should lift the outlook for GDP this year.

Moreover, Dowding added, the Democrats’ narrow margin of control in Congress means “it is unlikely much of the more expansive or radical aspects of the Biden agenda will see the light of day.”

“Increased regulation on the energy sector, banks and big tech are all likely to be watered down in the face of state-level opposition,” Dowding said .  

Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) stock powered another 4.4% higher, adding another $30 billion to its market value without any news flow beyond the constant upward ratcheting of analyst price targets, all of which remain comfortably below the spot price. Its market value topped $800 billion for the first time, cementing founder Elon Musk’s new position as the world’s richest man.

Meanwhile Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock rose 0.6% after a curious flurry of press releases from Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor  (OTC:HYMLY), which was forced to walk back overnight claims of having held early stage talks about cooperating with the iPhone maker in the auto sphere. 

Various news reports have suggested that the company is intensifying its efforts to develop an electric-powered, self-driving car, a project that the company had appeared to put on the back burner a couple of years ago. Quantumscape (NYSE:QS), whose research into solid-state batteries had prompted speculation that it could partner with Apple in such a venture, eked out a 0.5% gain.

Plug Power (NASDAQ:PLUG) stock rose another 13% on sustained enthusiasm after South Korea’s SK Group agreed to invest $1.5 billion in a joint venture with the hydrogen fuel cell developer earlier in the week. The company is still unprofitable after 20 years, but its market value has risen nearly 100% in the last month to over $20 billion.