Strong data boosted the markets
US stock markets rallied last week after February’s jobs report was better than expected. Non-farm payrolls rose by 313,000 in February—the most since July 2016. The unemployment rate remained at 4.1%—the lowest level since December 2000. The NASDAQ Composite (COMP-INDEX) (QQQ) rose 4.2% and closed the week at 7,560.81, while the S&P 500 Index (SPX-INDEX) (SPY) rose 3.5% to 2,786.57. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI-INDEX) (DIA) gained 3.3% and closed the week at 25,335.74.
Financials were strong
With the rise in broader indexes, financial stocks also rallied. The S&P 500 Financials Index rose 4.4% and closed the week at 492.13. All of the major banking stocks were in the green. Morgan Stanley (MS) rose 7.2%. Other notable gainers were Goldman Sachs (GS), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and US Bancorp (USB) with gains of 4.9%, 4.2%, and 3.5%, respectively. The Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) and the Vanguard Financials ETF (VFH) both rose 4.4%.
While banks received a lot of attention due to the prospect of light regulations and rising interest rates, the insurance industry also seems to be gaining momentum. The S&P Insurance Select Industry Index rose 6% last week. In the insurance space, Metlife (MET) rose 5.1%, while Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A) gained 5.4%.