Dow and S&P 500 finish higher after solid jobs report

Stocks have closed higher over past two sessions

By Anneken Tappe, CNN Business
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

(CNN) - The Dow and the S&P 500 logged a third day of gains in a row Friday, on the heels of the government jobs report that showed hiring slowed in August.

The Dow closed up 70 points, or 0.3%, while the S&P 500 finished up 0.1%. Both indexes alternated between gains and losses shortly after the opening bell. The Nasdaq Composite was the only major index finishing in the red. It closed down 0.2%.

Friday morning's jobs report showed the United States added 130,000 jobs last month, missing expectations and providing further evidence of a slowdown in hiring. Private payrolls grew at the weakest pace since May.

Wage growth, however, grew 3.2% from a year ago. And the unemployment rate held steady at 3.7%, near the lowest level in the past 50 years.

Investors bid safe-haven bonds higher after the report. The 10-year Treasury yield declined to 1.552%, compared with 1.6% before the jobs report. Gold prices also rose earlier in the day, but then gave up their gains.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, called the jobs report "ominous" and weaker than the headline suggests.

"The trend is softening, as firms scale back hiring plans alongside capital spending, in the face of prolonged and deep uncertainty," Shepherdson wrote in a note to clients.

Stocks have closed higher over the past two sessions, logging their best day in three weeks on Thursday amid optimism over US-China trade relations. Washington and Beijing are set to return to the negotiating table in October.

The jobs report probably won't derail expectations of further interest rate cuts.

The Federal Reserve first cut rates in July to boost the economy. Expectations for a quarter percentage point cut at the September 18 meeting are at 91%, according to the CME's FedWatch tool.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell didn't offer indications on the central banks plans in remarks he delivered at an event at the Swiss National Bank.

However, Powell said the Fed did not see a recession coming, but added that the economy is facing significant risks, pledging that the central bank would act as appropriate to ensure the expansion keeps going.

-- CNN's Donna Borak contributed to this report

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