It's been a really long time since the U.S. jobs report meant so much to investors and the broad-based S&P 500 (SNPINDEX:^GSPC), but this was certainly a report that investors were anxiously awaiting.
For June, the U.S. economy added 195,000 jobs, which is significantly higher than the 165,000 jobs that many economists had been expecting. Under normal circumstances, this would be a no-brainer charge higher for the market, but there are many other factors at play here.
Mainly, if the jobs report comes in too strong, it could force the Federal Reserve to cut back on its monetary easing policy known as QE3, which has seen the central bank purchase $85 billion in a combination of U.S. Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities on a monthly basis. These purchases have lent a hand in keeping lending rates at historic lows,and this has fueled home purchases as well as consumer and business refinancing. Today's figure of 195,000 could be strong enough to put the Fed on course to start tapering as early as September.
On the flipside, the lack of QE3 also signals that the central bank believes the U.S. economy is strong enough to survive without the aid of stimulus. This would be an exceptionally strong sign given how far we've come since 2009.
By the end of the day, investors had digested the double-edged data, and decided it was worthy of a sizable rally. The S&P 500 closed higher by 16.48 points (1.02%), to finish at 1,631.89.
The surprising winner on the day was life insurance underwriter Lincoln National (NYSE:LNC), a name not often among the biggest movers to the upside or downside. The big boost for Lincoln National was also the strong jobs data that helped push U.S. Treasury yields higher. Most insurers place a good chunk of their investable assets in high-quality bonds like U.S. Treasuries, which means that higher Treasury yields will result in more investment income. Lincoln shares finished higher by an S&P 500-topping 5.4% on the day.
Not far behind Lincoln National was diversified media company News Corp. (NASDAQ: NWS), which gained 5.3%, despite disparaging comments made by CEO Rupert Murdoch about the British police going public over the weekend according to a Reuters report. The real impetus behind the move, though, appears to be the ongoing consolidation chatter in the cable operators' space. Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) recently restructured $4.8 billion worth of its debt presumably to make room on its balance sheet for an acquisition. The space is certainly ripe for more M&A, and there's a chance even News Corp. could get in on the action.
The final big mover was national banking giant KeyCorp (NYSE:KEY), which tacked on 5% by the closing bell. Like Lincoln, the rally in KeyCorp's shares, and other banks for that matter, can be explained by the strong jobs report causing a rally in Treasury yields. Higher yields mean better net interest margins for banks. It also serves to attract deposits from risk-averse investors looking for a decent yield. Higher yields should benefit nearly all banks, so this is welcome news for KeyCorp shareholders.
Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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