The Thursday rise in the Dow Jones industrial average almost erased Wednesday’s precipitous fall in equity markets, but it still left the Dow down 12.5 percent over the past three weeks.
The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ each rose more than 4.5 percent Thursday. The gains followed on the generally positive jobs news and an easing of concerns about the immediate health of the European economy, particularly that of France. European equity markets were all sharply higher after speculation about a possible downgrade of France’s credit rating proved unfounded.
European Union authorities reported that four countries are banning short-selling to further tame the markets, according to wire services. France, Italy, Spain and Belgium joined Greece, which had banned the practice of placing bets on declines in share prices.
But Thursday’s rally did little to clarify some of the larger concerns about the U.S. and world economies — weak spending by U.S. households, stubbornly high unemployment rates in the developed world, chronically low growth in Europe and lingering concerns about the ability of governments there to pay their bills.
At the Michigan event, Obama aimed to shift his attention away from the messy partisan politics that consumed Washington during the month-long debt-ceiling negotiations and focus on job creation. As he has over the past several weeks, the president called on Congress to approve several proposals that he says would boost the economy, such as extending the payroll tax cut that was enacted in January and passing a road construction bill.
Johnson Controls received a $300 million federal grant for its lithium-ion battery plant, helping sustain the company’s 320 positions. On Thursday, Obama’s motorcade drove past a crowd of several dozen supporters, some holding banners reading “Thank you for the jobs” and “Hang tough, you’re right.”
His appearance came just hours before his Republican presidential rivals held a debate in Iowa before this weekend’s straw polls. Some Democrats have become worried about what they consider Obama’s lack of boldness in promoting employment and economic growth.
Some of those proposals, however, have been stymied by political squabbling. In particular, congressional approval of three free-trade agreements, which the administration says would boost U.S. exports by billions of dollars annually, have been held up by a deadlock between Republicans and Democrats over benefits for workers displaced by trade.
Nakamura reported from Holland, Mich. Staff writers Cezary Podkul and Zachary A. Goldfarb contributed to this report.