The US stocks started last week trading lower as investors were jittery over the tensions in the Middle East. However, as the prospect of an open military conflict with Iran was dimmed by President Trump’s comments, the markets managed to recover and even the mixed jobs report did not prevent the main indexes to close higher. The NASDAQ Composite advanced by 1.18%, with many tech stocks that are part of the index gaining ground amid reports that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will travel to Washington this week to sign a phase-one trade agreement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up by 0.42% and even managed to briefly touch the 29,000 mark for the first time in history. The S&P 500 appreciated by 0.59%.
The investor sentiment was mainly driven by the ongoing Iran-US conflict for the large part of the last week with some investors moving towards safe havens such as gold and oil and defense stocks. On Tuesday, Iran fired 15 ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq housing US and coalition forces, although no casualties on the American or Iraqi side were reported. On the following day, President Trump addressed the nation and said that the US will go the path of further economic sanctions against Iran instead of escalating a military conflict. Trump’s comments managed to soothe investors and helped move stocks higher.
In addition, there were two jobs reports last week. On Wednesday, the December ADP jobs report showed a gain of 202,000 jobs, higher than the consensus estimate of 157,000 and the previous month’s print of 124,000. This was the largest gain in eight months. However, the nonfarm payrolls data was less positive, showing a gain of just 145,000 jobs versus expectations of 164,000 and November figure of 256,000. The unemployment rate of