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Stocks swing to huge gains after jobs report, trade talks

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Stocks swing to huge gains after jobs report trade talks

NEW YORK (AP) — Global stocks soared Friday and reversed the big losses they suffered just a day earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 746 points in the latest twist in a wild three months for markets.

Hopes for progress in the U.S.-China trade dispute, a strong report on the U.S. jobs market and encouraging comments from the head of the U.S. central bank about its interest rate policy all combined to cheer investors.

China’s Commerce Ministry said trade talks will be held Monday and Tuesday in Beijing, and investors will again look for signs the world’s largest economic powers are resolving their dispute. The tensions have dragged on for nearly a year, slowing business and dragging down stock indexes worldwide.

Meanwhile the Labor Department said U.S. employers added 312,000 jobs last month, a far stronger result than experts had anticipated. U.S. stocks have tumbled since October as investors worried that the economy might slow down dramatically because of challenges including the trade dispute and rising interest rates.

The stock market’s plunge also threatened to shake up the confidence and the spending plans of businesses and consumers. Some analysts said investors were acting as if a recession was on the horizon, despite a lack of evidence that the U.S. economy is struggling.

“It’s hard to square recession worries with the strongest job growth we’ve seen in years,” said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research for FTSE Russell.

Stocks rose even further after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the central bank will be flexible in deciding if and when it raises interest rates. He added that the Fed is open to making changes in the way it shrinks its giant portfolio of bonds, which affects rates on long-term loans such as mortgages.

Until recently, the Fed had suggested it planned to raise short-term interest rates three times this year and next, and Powell said the Fed’s balance sheet was shrinking “on auto-pilot.” Wall Street feared that the Fed might be moving too fast in raising borrowing costs, said Phil Orlando, chief equity market strategist at Federated Investors.

The Fed’s interest-rate and bond portfolio policies “were at the top of the list of things we were concerned about, which is why the statement Powell made today is so supportive of the market,” Orlando said. “The Fed understands that what they attempted to communicate last month was inartful, that they didn’t get the right message across, and Powell tried to reset.”

The S&P 500 index climbed 84.05 points, or 3.4 percent, to 2,531.94, more than wiping out Thursday’s loss. The Dow rose 3.3 percent to 23,433.16 after gaining 832 during the afternoon. The Nasdaq composite jumped 275.35 points, or 4.3 percent, to 6,738.86.

About 90 percent of the stocks on the New York Stock Exchange traded higher.

Stocks sank Thursday after Apple said iPhone sales in China are falling, partly because of the trade fight, and a survey suggested U.S. factories grew at a weaker pace. Technology companies took their biggest losses in seven years.

The U.S. and China have raised tariffs on billions of dollars of each other’s goods in a fight over issues including Beijing’s technology policy. Last month, President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping agreed to 90-day ceasefire as a step toward defusing tensions, but that failed to calm the stock market.

Technology companies, banks, health care and industrial companies all made strong gains. Most of the companies in those industries stand to do better in times of faster economic growth.

Smaller and more U.S.-focused companies did even better than larger multinationals. The Russell 2000 index surged 49.92 points, or 3.8 percent, to 1,380.75. Smaller companies have fallen further than larger ones in the last few months as investors got nervous about how the U.S. economy will perform in 2019 and 2020.

Stocks have whipsawed between huge gains and losses for the last few weeks after their big December plunge. Katie Nixon, the chief investment officer for Northern Trust Wealth Management, said investors will continue to react to the health of the economy, and to concerns about high levels of corporate debt as interest rates rise.

“We don’t expect that this will be the end to the volatility,” she said. “There’s mounting evidence we’re going to see a slowdown,” albeit not a severe one.

Bond prices also changed course and moved sharply lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.66 percent after it plunged to 2.55 percent Thursday, its lowest in almost a year. That helps banks, as higher interest rates allow them to make bigger profits on mortgages and other loans.

European shares also overcome losses from a day earlier, with Germany’s DAX gaining 3.4 percent and France’s CAC 40 rising 2.7 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 advanced 2.2 percent.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng jumped 2.2 percent. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.8 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 2.3 percent on its first day of trading in 2019 as technology and electronics makers slumped on Apple’s report that Chinese iPhone sales were slipping.

U.S. crude oil added 1.8 percent to $47.96 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up 2 percent to $57.06 per barrel in London.

The dollar strengthened. It rose to 108.51 yen from 107.77 yen. The euro rose to $1.14 from $1.1391. The British pound moved up to $1.2740 from $1.2630.

Wholesale gasoline dipped 0.1 percent to $1.35 a gallon and heating oil added 1.6 percent to $1.77 a gallon. Natural gas rose 3.4 percent to $3.04 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In other trading, gold fell 0.7 percent to $1,285.80 an ounce and silver slipped 0.1 percent to $15.79 an ounce. Copper rose 3.1 percent to $2.65 a pound.

____

Stan Choe contributed to this story from New York. Annabelle Liang contributed from Singapore.

____

AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP

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Economy

Progressive think tanks: If the economy holds strong, Trump should win in a landslide

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Progressive think tanks If the economy holds strong Trump should win in a landslide

Tribalism makes it challenging to gauge where the sentiment of the most important voting blocks stand. Hyper-leftists would vote for a broken refrigerator before voting for President Trump in 2020, while the MAGA crowd would stand in line with no food, water, or a bathroom for two days if that’s what would be required for them to vote for their man.

But these won’t be the people who determine the results of the 2020 election. They never are, even if their numbers are greater on both sides as noted by Ben Shapiro in his new book. The rabid Republicans and determined Democrats may ebb and flow in size, but it’s the people in the mushy middle who win elections.

Knowing this, it’s often difficult to determine what the sentiment is if we go solely based on the news. Just as with the dedicated tribes, so too are media outlets generally spun in how they present the news. This is why a story from today on left-leaning Politico prompted a read. It was worthwhile going through the leftist spin to reach the meat of the story, which basically says if conventional wisdom about incumbents and the economy hold up and the economy can remain strong through the election, President Trump should win in a landslide regardless of who the Democrats nominate.

Models from multiple think tanks conclude the conventional model favors the President, but these are unconventional times. It’s still very possible for the economy to remain strong and for the President to be hit with another onslaught of scandals, as he was in 2016. Then, there’s the “it” factor of the Democratic nominee. Someone like Senator Kamala Harris throws in the minority-female combination as an appealing wildcard in the mix. Meanwhile, Beto O’Rourke and Senator Bernie Sanders still have incredible fundraising infrastructures that could help them dominate the money battle through the primaries and during the general election.

Of course, there’s always the possibility the economy could fall. Analysts have been predicting it in a way that’s vulgar, as if they hope the economy falls and people are hurt by it just to make sure President Trump loses in 2020.

If Republicans can put on a full-court press on the economy, something they failed miserably at in the 2018 midterms, they may be able to ride the President’s wave to victories on Capitol Hill as well. November 2020 will sneak up very quickly.

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Democrats

TIL the famous bar AOC worked at shut down over rising costs, minimum wage increase

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TIL the famous bar AOC worked at shut down over rising costs minimum wage increase

Today I learned something that surprised me, not because of the event itself but because so few people have talked about it. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) is known for being a leader of the socialist movement in Washington DC after rising from the humble status of bartender to the Congresswoman of the 14th district in New York. Her policies include a push for a “living wage” of $15 per hour. I’ve always thought the wording was odd considering Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and others have been calling for a rise in “minimum wage.” Today, I found out why she’s shying away from that phrase.

When New York City raised their minimum wage $15, many businesses were hit hard, especially in the hospitality industry. Restaurants and bars started cutting hours and often even closing their doors over the increase. One of those hit hard by the massive bump was The Coffee Shop. Owner Charles Milite blamed the closure on high costs, with the rise in minimum wage as the last straw.

“The rents are very high and now the minimum wage is going up and we have a huge number of employees,” he said.

The Coffee Shop is the bar where AOC once worked.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t some random bar. The Coffee Shop in Union Square was considered a high-end establishment, buzzing all the time with “A-list” patrons. It was featured many times in the HBO show Sex and the City and had built a reputation as an “it” spot for Manhattan residents and tourists alike. In other words, this wasn’t a hole in the wall hanging on by a string. It was a vibrant, successful business for almost three decades before New York City’s untenable leftist policies, including a $15 minimum wage, became more than the bar could bear.

On the surface, many voters may see the very basic math of “oh, Democrats want to pay me more” and assume there’s no repercussions for such actions. This is why Democrats prey on those people who currently make lower wages. They feel if they can promise them something that sounds good even if they know with 100% certainty based on empirical evidence that it will actually hurt them, these new socialists are willing to make that trade. They figure they can blame the conservatives later for why the place they were working at before cut their hours, removed their jobs, or shut down because of raising the minimum wage.

As usual, socialists rely on ignorance and emotion as the driving forces behind their plans. They’re not stupid. They know their ideas won’t work. But they’re willing to push them on people anyway in hopes that ignorance will keep them in power.

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Economy

Thomas Sowell makes a clear point about Medicare-for-All

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Thomas Sowell makes a clear point about Medicare-for-All

How was the left able to take heat away from their Medicare-for-All proposal, and more specifically the estimated $32 trillion price tag over a decade? They tripled down with the Green New Deal, which some estimate would cost upwards near $100 trillion.

So, the price tag of the Democrats’ desired replacement for utterly failing Obamacare is to take current government control over healthcare and put it on a regiment of steroids and methamphetamine. When you’re going through Hell, keep going, I suppose.

But all of this could be alleviated if voters and politicians took a moment to think about the prospects of Medicare-for-All logically. Let’s erase, for a moment, the Utopian notion that taxing rich people extreme amounts will give us enough money to make healthcare free for everyone while also improving the quality. That’s the goal, right? Cheaper, better healthcare is what most people want. Conservatives believe it’s best to pull government administration out of the equation and put it all on a competitive capitalist model that has worked for nearly every other industry for over a century. Hyper-leftists want to add more government control.

Conservative commentator Thomas Sowell has some thoughts on the matter. One in particular can be wrapped up into an eloquent quote that should be ideological checkmate allowing us to win the healthcare debate.

“It is amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and medication somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer it.”

Of course, our version of checkmate requires common sense, logic, and basic math skills. These attributes aren’t as readily present on the left, therefore they might hear this logic and still think single-payer makes sense.

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