Wall St. rebounds on robust jobs report, dovish Powell remarks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Wall Street rebounded on Friday to close at its highest in two weeks after a strong jobs report and assurances from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that the central bank would be patient and flexible in steering the course of interest rates.

In a session emblematic of the elevated volatility that has gripped markets for weeks, all three major U.S. stock indexes surged more than 3 percent in one of the broadest advances in years. The gains more than wiped out the previous session’s losses and were led by the technology sector, which bounced back from its largest one-day decline in more than seven years after Apple Inc (AAPL.O) cut it sales outlook.

Since hitting a 20-month low on Christmas Eve just a rounding error from levels considered to be a bear market, the S&P 500 Index .SPX has now gained 7.7 percent. Friday’s advance, measured by the number of stocks rising versus those falling, was the broadest in more than eight years.

The main catalysts for the surge were the monthly U.S. payrolls report, which blew past economists’ forecasts with the largest number of jobs created in 10 months, and comments by the Fed’s Powell.

In remarks to the American Economic Association, Powell soothed market nerves with assurances that the central bank is sensitive to risks that worry investors and is not on a preset path of interest rate hikes.

Speaking after months of volatility in world bond and stock markets, Powell avoided some of the communication missteps that in the past have roiled rather than calmed investors. He also pledged to stay in his post even if asked to quit by President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly chastised the man he put in the job over the Fed’s repeated rate hikes.

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