Wall Street lifts overnight

Sluggish US jobs data boosts investor expectations that Federal Reserve will maintain monetary stimulus.

United States stocks held gains amid renewed expectations that the Federal Reserve will continue its current easy money policies.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 60.14 points, or 0.39%, to 15,452.34 points.

The S&P 500 gained 8.13 points, or 0.47%, to 1,752.79 points, with materials and energy stocks leading gains by all 10 industry sectors.

The Nasdaq Composite Index added 2.50 points, or 0.06%, to 3,922.55 points.

On Monday, the Dow lost seven points, or 0.1%, but the S&P 500 rose fractionally to post a fourth-straight gain and close at a record high.

The government's September non-farm payroll report showed 148,000 jobs were added last month, less than expectations for a gain of 180,000. The unemployment rate ticked lower to 7.2%. Economists had expected it to remain flat at 7.3%. That report was delayed by more than two weeks because of the government shutdown.

In the wake of the jobs data, traders say the debate on Fed policy is shifting from whether the Fed would start to pull back on its easing efforts, to how long into 2014 the Fed will wait.

"It doesn't really change the current narrative," said R.J. Grant, associate director of equity trading at KBW Inc.

"It's not strong enough that the Fed is going to think about pulling back, it's not weak enough that it looks like total gloom and doom."

The Federal Reserve is expected to maintain its stimulus measures until it can assess the impact of the 16-day government shutdown that ended last week. Fed stimulus has helped the market rally this year because low interest rates hold down corporate costs, and the stimulus money itself leaks into the stock market, fueling investment there.

For the next few months, investors may take the closely watched payrolls and unemployment data with a grain of salt because of the government shutdown.

"A couple clients were saying this is the last jobs number that's going to have any meaning for a while," Mr Grant said.

"The next jobs number is going to be distorted by the government shutdown and then November could be kind of a catch-up number."

Others remain more concerned as the jobs report shows US growth remains sluggish.

"I'm surprised by how people chose to look at the numbers," said Jim Lauder, co-manager of the Wells Fargo Advantage Dow Jones Target Date Funds.

"They are choosing to look at the data in terms of what the government might do, and that's a scary proposition."

Mr Lauder sees US stocks as being decently priced now, but says a continued rally will leave the market overheated. His fund has been rebalancing away from domestic stocks and into foreign markets.

"There's no real buying opportunities in the US that aren't fairly priced," Mr Lauder said.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.532% from 2.609% late Monday.

The dollar fell to its lowest level in almost two years against the euro after the jobs data. The euro recently traded at $1.3780 versus $1.3681 late Monday.

Data on August construction spending, which was also delayed because of the government shutdown, showed a rise of 0.6% on the month, slightly above expectations. Spending in July was revised sharply higher to 1.4% from the initial estimate of a 0.6% rise.

European markets nudged slightly higher. The Stoxx Europe 600 extended gains late in the session, adding 0.7%, with the index on track for its ninth-straight gain and its highest finish since June 2008. The UK's FTSE 100 index tacked on 0.5%, Germany's DAX 30 index added 1.3% and France's CAC 40 index edged up 0.7%.

Asian markets were mixed. China's Shanghai Composite lost 0.8%, pulling back from the previous session's sharp rally, as data showing that average home prices rose to another fresh high sparked some fear that the government would step in to cool the property market. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average gained 0.1%.

Investors were also keeping an eye on earnings.

Netflix rose after it reported third-quarter earnings and revenue late Monday that exceeded analyst estimates, boosted by healthy subscriber growth, and provided a fourth-quarter earnings outlook that was above forecasts. The stock has nearly quadrupled since the start of the year.

Dow component United Technologies gained after the maker of Otis elevators and Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines reported better-than-expected third-quarter earnings and raised its full-year outlook. But the company said it plans to spend $500 million restructuring for 2013.

Travelers rose on better-than-forecast earnings and an increased stock buyback program. DuPont gained after reporting earnings that increased more than anticipated.

November crude-oil futures rose 0.4% to $99.61 a barrel, while October gold futures gained 1.4% to $1,334.30 an ounce.

Related Articles