Stock Market Today: Jobs Jubilee Drives Fresh Highs in Dow, S&P 500

Wall Street had a full three days to digest the March jobs report, and it’s clear investors liked what they saw.

The Labor Department reported Friday, a stock-market holiday, that the U.S. added 916,000 jobs last month – a massive beat of economists’ expectations for 647,000 additions. It also was a significant jump from February’s 468,000 new jobs – a number that itself was revised upward by nearly 100,000.

The report “emphasizes the strong recovery that is beginning to take shape in the service sector of the economy,” says Charlie Ripley, senior investment strategist for Allianz Investment Management. “With 280k jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector added, it is a clear signal that pockets of the economy that have been hit by pandemic restrictions are starting to come back to life.”

Further bolstering that case was the Institute for Supply Management’s March service reading, which rose to 63.7 from 55.3 in February, shattering expectations for a 59.0 reading.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (+1.1%) hit a record high of 33,527, led by gains in Walgreens (WBA, +3.7%), Intel (INTC, +3.1%) and Walmart (WMT, +2.8%). The S&P 500 also recorded a new high-water mark, up 1.4% to 4,077.

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Other action in the stock market today:

  • The small-cap Russell 2000 improved by 0.5% to 2,264.
  • Global COVID outbreaks and an OPEC+ vote to increase production sent U.S. crude oil futures 4.5% lower to $58.69 per barrel.
  • Gold futures were marginally higher to $1,728.80 per ounce.
  • Bitcoin prices finished 0.2% higher on Monday to reach $59,006. (Bitcoin trades 24 hours a day; prices reported here are as of 4 p.m. each trading day.)
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FAANGs Start to Look Sharper, Too

The Nasdaq Composite remains a few hundred points shy of its February highs, but it still had itself a day, climbing 1.7% to 13,705.

The tech-heavy index was propelled in part by Tesla (TSLA), which jumped 4.4% along with several other electric vehicle stocks Monday. Wedbush technology analyst Dan Ives upgraded Tesla to “Outperform” and raised his price target to $1,000 amid several drivers, including EV-friendly initiatives in President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

Also heading higher were all of the “FAANGs,” best among them Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL, +4.2%) and Facebook (FB, +3.4%) – welcome news for the group of mega-cap tech and tech-adjacent stocks that easily outstripped the major indices in 2020 but have collectively simmered this year, underperforming the S&P 500 on average.

Most of the analyst community remains bullish on the group, though each of these large companies has a more difficult row to hoe in 2021. Should you buy the FAANGs now? Consider the challenges faced by each of these five widely held stocks in the months ahead – and what, if anything, they’re doing to fight back.