March 9, 2018 / 4:25 PM / 2 months ago

REFILE-US STOCKS-Wall Street higher as wage data soothes inflation worries

(Corrects Reuters Instrument Code (RIC) for Mattel in paragraph 13)

* Nonfarm payrolls increase by 313,000 in February

* Average hourly earnings rise 0.1 percent

* Indexes higher: Dow 1.06 pct, S&P 1.02 pct, Nasdaq 1.07 pct

By Ankur Banerjee and Parikshit Mishra

March 9 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks extended gains on Friday, with the Nasdaq touching a record, after data showed strong job additions in February but muted wage growth that indicated a gradual rise in inflation and helped temper expectations of faster interest rate increases.

Helping sentiment on Friday, a day when the bull market for stocks turned nine, were signs of a potential breakthrough in nuclear tensions in the Korean peninsula and President Donald Trump’s softened stance on tariffs.

“You got sort of a Goldilocks report with stronger employment, coupled with modest wage growth, but not enough that forces the Fed to act more rapidly than they otherwise would,” said Scott Clemons, chief investment strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York.

Strong jobs data last month fueled speculation that higher wages could lead to faster interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve, rattling global equities market.

However, the slow wage growth in February could temper expectations that the Fed will change its rate forecast to four hikes this year from three.

At 11:02 a.m. ET, Dow Jones industrial average was up 264.51 points, or 1.06 percent, the S&P 500 was up 27.89 points, or 1.02 percent.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 79.29 points, or 1.07 percent. The index touched a record of 7,514.34.

The stock markets’ bull run appears poised to set the record as the longest in history, buoyed by global economic growth and stronger company earnings.

Nonfarm payrolls jumped by 313,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years.

Average hourly earnings edged up 0.1 percent, a slowdown from the 0.3 percent rise in January. That lowered the year-on-year increase in average hourly earnings to 2.6 percent from 2.8 percent in January.

Worries that the hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum could ignite a global trade war had roiled markets since last Thursday, with the exit of chief economic adviser Gary Cohn intensifying the concerns.

Among bigger movers, discount retailer Big Lots slid 9 percent after posting a surprise drop in same-store sales and forecasting a weak profit for the current quarter and the full year.

Shares of toymakers Hasbro and Mattel were lower after sources told Reuters that retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is preparing for a potential liquidation.

Tesla fell 1.2 percent, following the exit of its chief accounting officer and a Morgan Stanley note on rising competition.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,923 to 850. On the Nasdaq, 1,904 issues rose and 864 fell. (Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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