US stocks rise as companies that pay big dividends surge

Friday, August 3, 2018, Vol. 42, No. 31

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks rose Friday after the Labor Department said hiring remained solid in July and strong quarterly earnings continued to boost the market.

U.S. employers added 157,000 jobs last month, fewer than analysts expected. But the Labor Department said more jobs were added in May and June than it previously reported. That made up for the shortfall in July.

There was little reaction to China's threat to put tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods. Larger multinational companies climbed while smaller, U.S.-focused companies lagged the rest of the market. That's the opposite of what generally happens when investors are worried about trade tensions.

Bond prices edged higher, sending yields lower. Food companies and other big-dividend stocks rose.

Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, said the data show the economy is likely to keep expanding, but it's not heating up in a way that would push the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates more quickly.

"That's exactly what the market wants to see," he said. "This report is right in the sweet spot."

The S&P 500 index rose 13.13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,840.35. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 136.42 points, or 0.5 percent, to 25,462.58. The Nasdaq composite rose 9.33 points, or 0.1 percent, to 7,812.01. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks lost 8.73 points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,673.37.

The benchmark S&P 500 rose for the fifth week in a row. Some of those gains have been small, but that's the longest winning streak for the index this year.

The slightly weak jobs report reflected the bankruptcy of Toys R Us and job cuts in local governments, which dragged down the hiring totals.

Hourly wage growth remained modest in July, and inflation-adjusted wages are actually decreasing because inflation has gradually picked up. McMillan, of Commonwealth, said another reason for the slip is that companies are hiring people with lower education levels because there are more of those workers available. While low or stagnant wages are good for company profits and stock prices, it could pose a problem for the economy.

"One of the real questions going forward is whether in fact consumers can keep spending at the rate they have," he said.

Kraft Heinz climbed after the maker of Oscar Mayer meats and Jell-O pudding said improved sales in Europe and Asia helped offset weaker results from the U.S. and Canada. The New York Post also reported that Kraft has had talks with Campbell Soup about a possible deal.

The Post said Kraft hasn't made an offer. Kraft Heinz gained 8.6 percent to $64.48 and Campbell rose 2.5 percent to $42.76.

Cereal maker Post Holdings climbed 8 percent to $93.58 after reporting quarterly revenue that was higher than analysts expected. The company also said the private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners is investing in its private brands division, 8th Avenue Food & Provisions.

Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive jumped 9 percent to $123.41 percent after it topped Wall Street's expectations in the fiscal first quarter and raised its projections for the rest of the year. The company said players spent more money on "Grand Theft Auto Online" and "NBA 2K18" than it expected. Rival Activision Blizzard lost 3.7 percent to $71.32 after a weak revenue forecast.

China and the U.S. continued to threaten each other with tariffs. China's government said Friday that it will put tariffs on $60 billion in goods including coffee, honey and industrial chemicals if the U.S. goes ahead with a proposal to tax $200 billion in Chinese imports. The Trump administration said this week that it might put a tariff of 25 percent on those goods, a higher rate than it had threatened previously.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.95 percent from 2.98 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude lost 0.7 percent to $68.49 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dipped 0.3 percent to $73.21 per barrel in London.

Wholesale gasoline slipped 0.1 percent to $2.07 a gallon. Heating oil fell 0.2 percent to $2.13 a gallon. Natural gas rose 1.3 percent to $2.85 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Energy companies traded lower following some disappointing quarterly reports. Noble Energy sank 7.9 percent to $32.89 and EOG Resources fell 2.8 percent to $122.41. Energy stocks have lagged the rest of the market in recent weeks after making big gains earlier this year.

Gold picked up 0.3 percent to $1,223.20 an ounce. Silver added 0.5 percent to $15.46 an ounce. Copper gained 0.9 percent to $2.76 a pound.

The dollar weakened slightly. It fell to 111.23 yen from 111.69 yen. The euro fell to $1.1578 from $1.1587.

The British FTSE 100 jumped 1.1 percent. Germany's DAX added 0.6 percent and the CAC 40 in France edged up 0.3 percent.

Japan's Nikkei 225 added less than 0.1 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gave up 0.2 percent. South Korea's Kospi added 0.8 percent.


AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at His work can be found at