Working out soldier american flag weightsU.S. Air ForceA member of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s, Special Tactics Training Squadron strains while lifting weights during a strength and conditioning session at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

Stocks rallied on Friday after a jobs report that showed nonfarm payrolls grew more than expected in September while the unemployment rate fell below 6% for the first time since July 2008.

First, the scoreboard:

  • Dow: 17,009.69, +208.6, (+1.2%)
  • S&P 500: 1,967.90, +21.7, (+1.1%)
  • Nasdaq: 4,475.62, +45.4, (+1%)

And now, the top stories on Friday:

1. The jobs report was a blowout. Nonfarm payrolls grew by 248,000 in September better than the 215,000 that was expected by Wall Street economists and better than the 142,000 gain last month. August’s numbers were revised higher to 180,000. The unemployment rate also fell to 5.9%, the first time the unemployment rate has fallen below 6% since July 2008, and better than expectations for the unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 6.1%. Wage growth was the piece of the jobs report that disappointed, however, with wages flat month-over-month and up 2% year-over-year, below expectations for gains of 0.2% and 2.2%, respectively.

2. A much-watched piece of the jobs report, the labour force participation rate, also fell to its lowest level since 1978. The labour force participation rate fell to 62.7% from 62.8% in August, and the decline in the labour force has been one of the most hotly debated questions in economics. As Business Insider’s Andy Kiersz wrote on Friday: “On the one hand, America is ageing, and the baby boomers are beginning to retire. That leads to a natural demographic decline in the participation rate…. On the other hand, the US is coming out of the worst recession it has faced in decades, and the participation rate dropped much more sharply since 2008. The cyclical effects from the recession may also be a big factor in the declining participation rate.”

3. Stocks rallied on Friday, with all of the major averages gaining more than 1%. The averages, however, still finished the week with losses in what was a choppy week of trade. There was a rash of economic data this week, and when it was all said and done, Drew Matus at UBS wrote in a note to clients that simply: “Sometimes good news is good news.” Matus wrote that Q3 GDP now appears to be tracking about 0.5% above his initial 3.2% annualized growth expectation, with consumer spending appearing to have accelerated, fixed business investment improved, and the labour market appearing solid.

4. Commodities continued to take a beating this week, as crude oil fell below $US90 a barrel for the first time this year and gold continued to fall. Gold fell below $US1200 an ounce on Friday, and is now near its worst level of the year as the entire commodity space continues to be under pressure.

5. Wall Street veteran analyst Brad Hintz announced that he is leaving Sanford Bernstein, where he has been one of the top financial sector analysts for the last 13 years. Hintz was considered a “go-to” analysts for comment on the big banks, and is leaving Bernstein, which is also terminating coverage of capital markets banks and investment banking boutiques, to take a position at NYU’s Stern School.

6. Stocks in the “Ebola trade” had a big day after a report from CNN said that a patient was admitted to a Washington, D.C.-area hospital with Ebola-like symptoms. Some of the big gainers from this trade include Tekmira and BioCryst, which are developing Ebola treatments, and Sarepta Pharmaceuticals, which develops treatments for rare diseases.

7. Also on the economic data front, America’s oil deficit fell to its lowest level in 10 years as the US balance of trade unexpectedly narrowed in August, to $US40.1 billion from $US40.4 billion in July. Following the report, Ian Shepherdson at Pantheon Macro said the report was “flattered by oil exports,” but added that the trade deficit will make a “hefty” contribution to Q3 GDP, which he expects to come in at 3.5%.

8. A late afternoon report in The Wall Street Journal said that Yahoo wants to invest in Snapchat as part of a fundraising round that values the vanishing picture app at $US10 billion.

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