Stocks gain, Treasury yields jump after US job report

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) -A gauge of global stocks rose on Friday, on pace for its sixth straight week of gains, while U.S. Treasury yields shot higher after a strong U.S. jobs report forced markets to modify expectations for the timing of rate cuts by the Federal Reserve.

U.S. job growth accelerated in November, with the Labor Department’s employment report showing nonfarm payrolls increased by 199,000 jobs last month, above the 180,000 estimate of economists polled by Reuters, after rising by an unrevised 150,000 in October. The unemployment rate fell to 3.7% from the near two-year high of 3.9% in October.

Ahead of the payrolls report, a string of labor market data this week indicated some softening in the jobs market, while other reports in recent weeks showed a cooling of inflation and led markets to increase expectations the Federal Reserve would have the leeway to cut interest rates as soon as March.

Expectations for a March cut of at least 25 basis points (bps) slipped to about 46%, according to CME’s FedWatch Tool, down from about 65% on Thursday.

“I don’t think this gives the Fed the ability to pivot. It’s not weak enough,” said Matthew Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management in Boston.

“(Fed Chair Jerome) Powell’s going to push back on the market’s pricing of rate cuts. He’s likely to communicate that the Fed’s got to stay steady in restrictive territory for the time being.”

Other data from the University of Michigan showed U.S. consumer sentiment improved much more than expected in December, snapping four straight months of declines, as households saw inflation pressures easing.

On Wall Street, stocks closed higher after a choppy session with the S&P 500 closing at its highest level since March 2022, led by a 1.1% gain in energy <.SPNY> shares as oil prices bounced. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 130.49 points, or 0.36%, to 36,247.87, the S&P 500 gained 18.78 points, or 0.41%, to 4,604.37 and the gained 63.98 points, or 0.45%, to 14,403.97.

U.S. Treasury yields surged following the payrolls report. The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury note jumped 10 basis points to 4.23%, on track for its biggest one-day gain since Nov. 9. The two-year U.S. Treasury yield, which typically moves in step with interest rate expectations, shot up by 14.5 basis points, its biggest daily jump since June 29, to 4.725%.

European shares closed at their highest since February 2022 with the STOXX 600 index up 0.80%. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.29% and was poised for a sixth straight weekly gain, its longest streak in four years.

Along with recent economic data, comments from Fed officials, including Chair Jerome Powell, have fueled investor speculation about the timing of the central bank’s pivot to a rate cut. The Fed’s next policy meeting is on Dec. 12-13, while the next policy announcement from the European Central Bank (ECB) is on Dec. 14. Expectations have also grown the ECB was at or near the end of its rate hike cycle and a cut may be on the horizon.

In currencies, the dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six currencies, gained 0.29%, to 103.96 while the euro was down 0.29% on the day at $1.0761.

Crude prices bounced after a recent slump but oil benchmarks were on track for a seven-week decline, the longest in five years, after Saudi Arabia and Russia lobbied OPEC+ members to join output cuts.

U.S. crude settled up 2.73% at $71.23 per barrel and Brent settled at $75.84, up 2.42% on the day.

Gold fell 1.27% to $2,002.56 an ounce after dropping to $1,994.49, its lowest since, Nov 24, as the dollar and yields climbed following the payrolls report.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak, additional reporting by Sinéad Carew; Editing by Nick Zieminski, Susan Fenton and Daniel Wallis)