Encouraged by unexpectedly strong jobs data, U.S. indexes touched record highs Friday, as buyers shrugged off fears of slowing growth in Europe and China and focused on the improving strength of the U.S. economy. Unlike the springtime sell-offs of the past three years, the Dow passed the 15,000 mark only to close slightly shy of the mark, while the S&P 500 crossed the 1,600-point mark and held. The catalyst for the rally was a report from the U.S. Department of Labor, showing that employers added 165,000 jobs in April and that the unemployment rate fell to 7.5 per cent, its lowest level since December, 2008.
As good as the numbers were, they weren’t enough to raise concerns that the U.S. Federal Reserve will take their foot off the gas petal by easing back on the stimulus in the form of bond buying or quantitative easing (QE) — a powerful elixir that is credited for powering a five-year bull market. The S&P 500 has now risen by 13 per cent in the first four months of 2013, putting it on track for the best yearly performance since 2009, when markets were recovering from deeply oversold territory.