The U.S. equity markets were edging out modest gains on Friday afternoon, buoyed by a stronger-than-expected labor market report and the broad success of stress tests at America’s top financial institutions.
At 12:25 p.m.: DJIA: +0.23%, S&P 500: +0.28%, NASDAQ: +0.21%.
Here are three stories moving markets on Friday afternoon:
1) The U.S. Labor Department reported on Friday morning that the headline U-3 unemployment rate declined from 7.9 percent in January to 7.7 percent in February, its lowest level since December 2008. Employers added 236,000 positions to their payrolls, a huge improvement over the average rate of 190,000 additions over the past four months, and well above consensus estimates for 165,000 additions.
However, there is some bad news lingering in the report. The number of long-term unemployed remained unchanged at 4.8 million, or 40 percent of the total unemployed. January’s increase of 157,000 was downwardly revised to just 119,000, although December’s number was revised from a gain of 196,000 to a gain of 219,000… (Read more.)