The stock markets in the United States ended the trading session higher driven by investors’ optimism regarding the economic growth given the decline of the unemployment rate last month.

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The Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate dropped to 5.4% after companies added 223,000 jobs in April.  The agency also indicated that the average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payroll increased 3% to $24.87.  The average hourly earnings rose 2.2% over the past 12 years.

Commenting on employment data, Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors told Bloomberg, “The jobs report is not indicating the economy is overheating, and it’s certainly not indicating the economic environment is further on the decline.” He noted a “big sigh of relief in the capital markets.

On the other hand, Darrell Cronk, president of Wells Fargo Investment Institute commented, “We hit it right where we needed to be, not too much and not too little. You want an economy growing north of 200,000 jobs, but if you get closer to 300,000 you start to have conversations about inflationary pressures and the economy heating up too fast, so this number is perfect.”

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The Federal Reserve is closely monitoring improvements in the labor market to determine the timing of interest rate hikes. Charles Evans, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago recently stated that policy makers should wait for more evidence that wages are increasing before raising interest rates.

Meanwhile, Hedge Fund Manager Daniel Loeb of Third Point said he is not concerned with the interest rate hike citing the reason that the increasing corporate profits would present opportunities for stocks. He said, “Equities are going to trade on prospective earnings appreciation.”

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) – 18,191.11 (+1.49%)
  • S&P 500- 2,116.10 (+1.35%)
  • NASDAQ- 5,003.55 (+1.17%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,234.89 (+0.76%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,649.48 (+2.62%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 7,046.82 (+2.32%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 11,709.73 (+2.65%)

Asia-Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 19,379.19 (+0.45%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 27,577.34 (+1.05%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 4,558.40 (+1.98%)

Stocks in Focus

The shares of Biogen climbed nearly 4% to $398.43 per share after announcing that its board of directors approved a $5 billion shares repurchase program within the next five years.

The stock price of Visa increased 4.34% to $69.47 per share due to the report that it is engaged in a preliminary negotiation to acquire its former subsidiary, Visa Europe for as much $20 billion.

Monster Beverage plummeted 10.47% to $128.47 per share after the company reported financial results for the first quarter that missed expectations. Monster Beverage posted a net income of $108.5 million or $0.62 per share compared with the $0.68 per share estimated by analysts.

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