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* Plunge in April nonfarm payrolls smaller than feared
* Disney rises as tickets sell out for Shanghai park
* Uber climbs as ride service bookings recover
* Indexes up: Dow 1.54%, S&P 1.45%, Nasdaq 1.56% (Updates to early afternoon)
By C Nivedita and Medha Singh
May 8 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes gained on Friday as staggering job losses in April due to the coronavirus outbreak were still slightly better than feared, adding to optimism from an easing in U.S.-China friction.
Official figures showed nonfarm payrolls plummeted 20.5 million in April - their steepest plunge since the Great Depression. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast 22 million job losses.
“There were whispers that the number could come in much worse,” said Darrell Cronk, chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management in New York.
“The fact they didn’t come in higher is a bit of a relief rally. The market is exhaling a little bit on the fact that the worst jobs report in modern history wasn’t even worse.”
Wall Street’s indexes are now on course for their first weekly gain in three weeks, with the Nasdaq recouping all its losses for 2020, as investors pinned their hopes on supply chains coming back on track and a revival in consumer spending as several U.S. states reopened economies.
On Thursday, financial markets began pricing in a negative U.S. interest rate environment for the first time ever, expecting the Federal Reserve to pump even more cash into the system to rescue the economy from a deep global recession.
Also lifting the mood on Friday, Beijing said Sino-U.S. trade negotiators had agreed to improve the atmosphere for the implementation of a Phase 1 deal, days after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose new tariffs.
Wall Street’s fear gauge slipped to its lowest since early March, consistently easing from levels last seen during the global financial crisis.
At 12:45 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 368.28 points, or 1.54%, at 24,244.17, the S&P 500 was up 41.72 points, or 1.45%, at 2,922.91. The Nasdaq Composite was up 140.44 points, or 1.56%, at 9,120.10.
Financial stocks tracked a rise in Treasury yields, while energy stocks jumped on the back of higher oil prices.
Disney rose 2.3% as tickets for the earliest days of Shanghai Disneyland’s re-opening in China sold out rapidly.
Uber Technologies Inc jumped 6.2% as the company said its ride service bookings recovered in recent weeks and that it expects a coronavirus-related slowdown will delay the goal of becoming profitable by a matter of quarters, not years.
Boeing Co rose 2.8% as Chief Executive Officer David Calhoun said in a interview with Fox Business News that the planemaker expects to start production of grounded 737 MAX jet this month.
But Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp fell 2.4% after the IT services and outsourcing firm warned of weak demand this year.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.29-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 3.84-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 10 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 55 new highs and one new lows. (Reporting by C Nivedita and Medha Singh in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Sagarika Jaisinghani, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Shinjini Ganguli)