Thursday, July 7, 2011

Wall Street lifted by jobs data, retailers

NEW YORK: Wall Street climbed on Thursday, July 7'' after a report showing a rise in private-sector jobs and strong sales at retailers lifted optimism in the economy.

Thursday's data from payrolls processor ADP showed private hiring increased by more than double expectations, raising hopes that Friday's June payrolls number would also be strong and a slowdown in the U.S. economy likely only temporary.

"That is precisely the kind of number the market needs in order to bolster confidence that our soft patch is brief and behind us," said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey. "It's definitely the type of green light the market is looking for to move higher."

The report coincided with data from the Labor Department that showed new claims for unemployment benefits fell slightly more than expected last week.

The reports fueled speculation that Friday's non-farm payrolls report from the Labor Department would provide more evidence of an improving labor picture, a key factor if markets are to rally into the end of the year.

Retailers were among the best performers after several top companies reported better-than-expected sales gains for June, using bargains to lure shoppers contending with an uncertain economy.

Target Corp (TGT.N) shares jumped 6.6 percent to $51.66 and Macy's Inc (M.N) added 2.7 percent to $29.63. The S&P retail index .RLX gained 1.9 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI gained 93.09 points, or 0.74 percent, to 12,719.11. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX rose 12.17 points, or 0.91 percent, to 1,351.39. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC added 30.61 points, or 1.08 percent, to 2,864.63.

Employers are expected to have added 90,000 jobs in June in Friday's Labor Department report, according to a poll of economists by Reuters.

The ADP report showed the private sector added 157,000 jobs last month, exceeding expectations for a gain of 68,000.

The S&P 500 is likely to run into strong overhead resistance at mid-1,300, according to technical analysts at UBS, about where the index found a ceiling on Thursday,

"Failure to breakout above major supply will promptly lead to a near-term trading range between 1,258-1,263 and 1,340-1,345," the analysts said in a research note.

Stocks have recovered sharply from losses in May and June when the S&P 500 fell around 7 percent. Thursday marks a continuation of a rally last week that pushed the index up 5.6 percent.

At least four brokerages, including Citigroup and JPMorgan, raised their price targets on Visa Inc (V.N) a day after the world's largest card processing network said the impact from the Federal Reserve's new debit fee rule was "manageable." Visa's stock rose 2 percent to $89.90.

Investors may be optimistic about a resolution to the U.S. debt ceiling debate as President Barack Obama and top congressional leaders were aiming for "something big" when they resume budget talks on Thursday to avert a default soon after weeks of impasse.

However, a small team of U.S. Treasury officials is discussing options to stave off default if Congress fails to raise the country's borrowing limit by an August 2 deadline, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. - Reuters

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