Stocks in the US ended in the green on Friday, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the Nasdaq Composite reaching record highs as April’s jobs report topped expectations and oil futures recovered from five-month lows hit a day earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was a step behind its peers, although it still ended with gains in more than two thirds of its components. DuPont (DD) was the top performer, up 3% after Reuters reported that Brazil had approved its merger with Dow Chemical (DOW), which increased 2.7%. But the blue chip index was somewhat constrained by a 2.5% loss in IBM after Warren Buffet said he had sold shares in the tech giant.
Advances in nine of the 11 sectors on the S&P 500 were led by a 1.7% gain in energy. Telecoms were up 1.5% and materials increased 1.4%. Apple’s (AAPL) 1.6% increase supported the Nasdaq. The US economy added 211,000 nonfarm jobs, outpacing the average forecast for a gain of 185,000. March jobs gains were revised down to 79,000 from 98,000. The unemployment rate fell to 4.4%, almost a 10-year low, in April from 4.6% in March.
Investors will be closely watching the outcome of France’s presidential election on Sunday, with polls showing centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron is likely to beat far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in a vote seen as key to the future of France and the European Union after the UK’s decision to exit the economic bloc almost a year ago.