Equity futures climbed in pre-market trading following a firmer than anticipated employment report, leading to a higher open for the major averages. However, those early gains failed to hold and the major averages were in the red at midday, with the Nasdaq once again the laggard. The market turned again a bit after noon and became decidedly positive, gaining momentum into the close to break the recent losing streak.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., nonfarm payrolls increased 379,000 in February and the unemployment rate slipped to 6.2% from 6.3%. The trade deficit widened 1.9% to $68.2B in January. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is up 1 from last week at 403 with oil rigs up 1 to 310.
WTI crude hit a near two-year high of $65.76 in early trading in New York as additional gains followed the much stronger than expected February employment report. Prices ramped up on Thursday after OPEC+ left production levels unchanged through April and Saudi Arabia extended its voluntary 1.0M barrel per day cut until then as well.
In Capitol Hill news, The Hill reported that the Senate voted against a proposal sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Seven Democrats, as well as one independent who caucuses with Democrats, voted to reject the proposal, including Joe Manchin, Kyrsten Sinema, Jon Tester, Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Chris Coons, Tom Carper, and Angus King, according to The Hill.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Broadcom (AVGO) were 1.5% lower after the company reported what Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Seymore called a "solid beat/raise" in its fiscal Q1. With catalysts in networking and wireless and a software strategy that he said is "now gelling," Morgan Stanley analyst Craig Hettenbach advises that he would add to positions in Broadcom as semi stocks pull back.
In other earnings news, shares of Costco (COST) slipped fractionally after what DA Davidson analyst Michael Baker called a "fairly sizable" Q2 earnings miss.
Shares of Virgin Galactic (SPCE) fell almost 10 after it was disclosed a filing with the SEC that chairman Chamath Palihapitiya sold 6.2M shares of the company's stock at an average price of $34.32 in a series of transactions this week. Following the transactions, Palihapitiya still has a 15.75M share stake in Virgin Galactic that he holds together with his investment partner Ian Osborne, the filing shows.
Shares of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCLH) were 12.3% lower after the company announced plans to sell roughly 47.58M ordinary shares. Cruise line peers Carnival (CCL) and Royal Caribbean (RCL) followed Norwegian lower with slides of 4.8% and 5.6%, respectively.
In COVID-19 news, Health Canada confirmed it has authorized the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by Janssen, a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) company.
Meanwhile, CNBC reported that trading platform Robinhood has chosen the Nasdaq (NDAQ) for its eventual initial public offering. The company has not yet filed officially for the listing, according to CNBC.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Sify Technologies (SIFY), which rose almost 46% after Bloomberg reported that Blackstone (BX) is in exclusive talks to acquire a minority stake in the company. Also higher was Waitr Holdings (WTRH), which gained 7% after announcing an expansion into the cannabis market.
Among the notable losers was Medallia (MDLA), which declined 16% after reporting quarterly results and agreeing to acquire Decibel for $160M in cash. Also lower was Certara (CERT), which fell 13.6% after reporting preliminary quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow rose 572.16, or 1.85%, to 31,496.30, the Nasdaq gained 196.68, or 1.55%, to 12,920.15, and the S&P 500 advanced 73.47, or 1.95%, to 3,841.94.