The much anticipated February jobs report was about as good as it gets. Strong growth with moderating wage pressure was just the tonic equity markets needed to set aside fears of rising inflation and a more aggressive Fed. Stocks surged, rising 1.7 percent following the report on Friday. These gains came after investors breathed something of a sigh of relief on Thursday, after details of the administration’s tariff proposal were not as belligerent as anticipated, exempting some countries and leaving room for others to be excluded as well. For the week overall, the S&P 500 index climbed a solid 3.5 percent.
Stocks’ recovery from the February correction was derailed last week, after new Fed Chair Powell gave an upbeat assessment of the economy in testimony before Congress, followed by the administration unexpectedly announcing the imposition of across the board import tariffs on steel and aluminum. On the week, the S&P 500 index fell 2 percent, with cyclical groups getting hammered, led by materials, down 3.8 percent, and industrials, which fell 3.3 percent. Only telecom managed to squeeze out a fractional gain.