U.S. stocks gained in value on March 8, as market participants responded to news that American employers generated strong jobs growth in February.
The blue-chip S&P 500 had a good day, trading up 0.2 percent at 1,546.81 at 12:48 p.m. in New York, according to Bloomberg. At this point, the transaction volume for equities contained in this index was 3.3 percent less than the 30-day average.
Earlier in the day, the group of stocks rose by as much as 0.5 percent, the media outlet reports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was also higher during the session, trading up 0.2 percent at 14,358.54. This group of 30 stocks rose to a new high earlier in the week, after reaching its previous record in 2007.
Strong jobs data
U.S. employers made robust additions to payrolls in February, as a report released by the Labor Department indicated that they created 236,000 jobs during the month, according to Reuters. The figure far exceeded the 160,000 new positions that was predicted by market experts.
The number of new jobs reported by the U.S. Department of Labor also surpassed the figure provided by economists taking part in a Bloomberg survey, who predicted that 165,000 would be created. A total of 90 of these market experts contributed to the poll.
In addition to the encouraging figure on the number of new positions created, the unemployment rate fell to 7.7 percent, which was the lowest for the measure since December 2008.
'Year of payroll growth'
"We have already coined this year's expected trend as being 'the year of payroll growth' and so far, we feel that the data is living up to such expectations," Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at New York-based Miller Tabak & Co, told Reuters.
Carla Ann Harris, managing director and senior client advisor at Morgan Stanley, noted this robust hiring in a Bloomberg interview, saying "people are starting to hire, and in fact they have been hiring for a few quarters."
She added that the wariness of hiring that many employers have is deteriorating, and that "you'll probably see a faster pace as people start to move towards growth as opposed to maintaining the status quo because of the uncertainty they feel in the market."
At this point, there is a strong divergence between market experts who predict a pullback in equities and those who expect stocks to continue to gain. Reuters reports that while many investors have a mindset of positive expectations, many of them are well aware that this rally could reverse and lead to losses.
Between when it reached its April 2012 peak and the beginning of June, the benchmark S&P 500 plunged 9.9 percent.
Mary Ann Bartels, who works as New York-based head of U.S. technical and market analysis at Bank of America, said on Bloomberg radio that this group of blue-chip stocks could potentially record losses of as high as 10 to 15 percent this year.
She advised that any pullback in the S&P 500 could present investors with a strong opportunity for purchases.
However, she also added that as more stocks enjoy gains, the index could rise to as high as 1,600, according to the news source.
The benchmark S&P 500 had risen 1.8 percent so far this week at the time of report, and was also up more than 3 percent for the month of March, Reuters reports.
"There are so many sectors and stocks breaking out of the 10-year trading range, that I've never seen in my career," Bartels stated. "This is a strong market."
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