After a rough few days, investors got some genuinely good news late this week.
On Thursday, President Trump signed an order imposing 25% tariffs on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports, but he exempted Mexico and Canada (the biggest exporter) for now. On Friday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said other exemptions may follow.
Then, in a stunning development Thursday night, South Korea’s national security advisor Chung Eoi-yong announced at the White House that North Korean leader Kim Jong-eun would suspend nuclear and missile tests and that President Trump would meet with him this spring.
Finally on Friday morning, the Labor Department announced that nonfarm payrolls grew by 313,000, way above expectations and January’s 200,000 gains. Unemployment stayed at 4.1% and average hourly earnings rose by 0.1%, or 2.6% on a yearly basis.
By mid-afternoon Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had gained almost 400 points, the Nasdaq Composite index was up more than 100, and the Standard & Poor’s 500 index had advanced by nearly 40. The S&P is less than 100 points shy of its all-time high reached on January 26th.
So, which mattered most? And what does it say about stocks’ future direction?