May 8, 2020 / 3:49 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St rises on better-than-feared jobs report, easing Sino-U.S. tension

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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 1.44%, S&P 1.24%, Nasdaq 1.19% (Adds details, quote; updates prices)

By C Nivedita and Medha Singh

May 8 (Reuters) - U.S. stock markets gained on Friday after data showed the economy lost fewer jobs in April than feared due to the coronavirus crisis, adding to optimism from an easing in tensions between Washington and Beijing.

All the 11 S&P sectors were trading higher, with the defensive real estate and consumer staples indexes posting some of the biggest gains.

Official figures showed nonfarm payrolls plummeted 20.5 million in April - their steepest plunge since the Great Depression - but the number was still better than the 22 million forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

"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 increase in three, 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 after 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.

Wall Street's fear gauge slipped to its lowest since early March, consistently easing from levels last seen during the global financial crisis.

"The disconnect between sanguine financial markets and an imploding real economy grows larger by the day as bets for more and more stimulus are leading Wall Street to turn a blind eye to how catastrophic economic data really are," said Marios Hadjikyriacos, investment analyst at online broker XM.

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 President Donald Trump threatened to impose new tariffs.

At 11:13 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 344.39 points, or 1.44%, at 24,220.28, the S&P 500 was up 35.65 points, or 1.24%, at 2,916.84. The Nasdaq Composite was up 106.45 points, or 1.19%, at 9,086.11.

Financial stocks tracked a rise in Treasury yields, while energy stocks jumped on the back of higher oil prices.

Disney rose 2.1% as tickets for the earliest days of Shanghai Disneyland's re-opening in China sold out rapidly.

Uber Technologies Inc jumped 3.9% 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 3.3% 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 4% after the IT services and outsourcing firm warned of weak demand this year.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 5.51-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 3.65-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded six new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 43 new highs and one new low. (Reporting by C Nivedita and Medha Singh in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Anil D'Silva, Sagarika Jaisinghani and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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