U.S. stocks ended the day Friday with gains, despite a report showing that employers added fewer jobs in August than investors expected. The new data could indicate that the Federal Reserve will be less likely to raise interest rates later this year.
Utility companies made the biggest gains, while energy companies rose as the price of oil rose for the first time this week.
ON WALL STREET: At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 72.7 points, about 0.4 percent, at 18,492. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 9.1 points, about 0.4 percent, to 2,180. The Nasdaq composite climbed 22.7 points, about 0.4 percent, to 5,250.
OIL PRICES: As markets closed, the price of U.S. benchmark crude oil was up $1.17 at $44.33 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, added $1.32 to $46.77 a barrel. U.S. crude had fallen 9 percent over the last four days.
JOBS DATA: The government said U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs in August, a bit less than economists expected. Compared to the last few months, job gains slowed in most major industries and wages only rose a little. While the United States is on a long streak of job growth, reports over the last few months have been inconsistent. Growth was weak in April and May, then picked up in June and July. That’s left investors somewhat worried about the health of the U.S. economy and the job market.
FED AHEAD: The Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December and wants to raise them further. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said last week that another increase was growing more likely. The weakening jobs figures make it less likely the Federal Reserve will raise rates at its remaining meetings this year, and since investors are uneasy about the state of the economy, that was something of a relief.