US stocks rise as investors weigh weak September jobs growth against prospect of continued Fed support

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  • Stocks wavered but ticked slightly higher at the open following a big miss in the US jobs report for September.
  • 194,000 jobs were created last month, below the 500,000 expected in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
  • The recent wave of the Delta variant appears to have stoked the labor shortage.

Stocks were choppy but edged higher Friday after data showed September jobs growth was far weaker than anticipated but the big miss in the payrolls report kept alive the prospect the Federal Reserve will continue monetary support for the economy still recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 seesawed after the Labor Department said194,000 jobs were created last month, well below the estimate of 500,000 jobs from economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

“The declines in the unemployment measures and the participation rate show that the movement of people back to the labor force has paused,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, in a note. “The biggest problem is not that growth has slowed; it is that people are still scared to go back to work,” because of a recent wave of the Delta coronavirus variant that is now showing signs of subsiding.

Here’s where US indexes stood at 9:30 a.m. on Friday:

“The good news, for markets, is that this weak report, combined with the extension of the debt ceiling deadline to shortly after the next Fed meeting, makes the Fed less likely to start the tapering process then,” McMillan said. “One of the principal market worries has been higher rates, and in this case, the bad employment news could provide additional support for markets if the Fed does delay.”

Around the markets, gold picked up 1.1% to $1,777.80 per ounce.

Oil prices rose. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 1.1% to $79.12 per barrel. Brent oil, oil’s international benchmark, moved up 1% to $82.74.

Bitcoin rose 1.7% to $54,696.46.