Bank stocks roared past other stocks Friday on reports of dormant inflation and of more trouble brewing in Japan.
The Labor Department reported that nonfarm payrolls unexpectedly fell by 36,000 jobs in March. Economists were expecting a gain of 250,000. The unemployment rate also jumped to 4.7%, from 4.6%, in March. The reports calmed fears about wage-based inflation.
The Standard & Poor's bank index rose 0.62%, while the Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.04%. The Nasdaq bank index rose 0.39%.
Also on Friday Moody's In-vestors Service cut Japan's debt rating to negative.
"The real boost in bank stocks came on a flight to quality," said Thomas Carpenter at ASB Capital Management, Washington. "Japan's economy has gone from bad to worse."