Dow up 81 as jobs data offer some cheer

The S&P 500 is up for a 4th day in a row. Jobless claims aren't as bad as feared. Google hits a new intraday high; Apple comes back from early lows. Gold finishes at an 11-month high. Coal stocks jump.

By Charley Blaine Oct 4, 2012 12:19PM
Charley BlaineUpdated: 6:48 p.m. ET

Stocks finished higher today, and the Dow Jones industrials ($INDU) had their best day in about three weeks after initial jobless claims didn't rise as much as expected and investors were pleased the European Central Bank left its key interest rates alone.

And there was a large constituency that believed the market moved higher because of Republican Mitt Romney's performance in Wednesday's presidential debate.

Banks, energy (especially coal) and materials stocks were the market leaders. Bank of America (BAC) was up 30 cents to $9.41. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) had risen 96 cents to $41.82. Coal-producer Alpha Natural Resources (ANR), up 43 cents to $6.73, was the top performer in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX).

The technology sector, however, was the day's laggard, in part reflecting investors' adjusting to Hewlett-Packard's (HPQ) gloomy outlook. HP managed to finish up 3 cents to $14.94 after falling to as low as $14.24 early in the day, its lowest intraday level since 2003. Apple (AAPL) was off $4.65 to $666.80. But Google (GOOG) hit a new intraday high of $769.89 before dropping back to $768.05 -- itself a new closing high.

The Dow gained 81 points to 13,575. The blue chips had been up as many as 99 points. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index ($INX) was up 10 points to 1,461, its best close since Sept. 14. The Nasdaq Composite Index ($COMPX) finished up 14 points to 3,149. The Nasdaq-100 Index ($NDX) had gained 10 points to 2,829.

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The Dow was higher for the second day in a row. The S&P 500 is now sporting a four-day winning streak, and the Nasdaq closed higher for the third straight day.

The market moved a bit lower after the release of minutes of the Federal Reserve's Sept. 12-13 meeting. The minutes show that, after some considerable debate, all but one of the members of the Federal Open Market Committee supported the Fed's new stimulus plan to buy $40 billion a month in mortgage securities and to keep buying even after the recovery strengthens.

Friday brings the September nonfarm payroll and unemployment report, the most important economic statistic of the month and even more important in an election year. Most economists see the unemployment rate holding at around 8.2%. Payrolls may grow as much as 125,000. A few prognosticators think the number might reach 200,000.

Techs and retailers struggle
Today's gains came despite that weakness in technology, driven by the aftermath of Hewlett-Packard's woes -- CEO Meg Whitman doesn't see a big recovery before 2014 -- and by Informatica (INFA), down a whopping $7.60 to $26.04. The software developer's fiscal-third-quarter earnings missed Street estimates.

After the close, Moody's placed HP's $20 billion in debt under under review for a possible downgrade.

At the same time, retail chains reported mixed September results. Kohl's (KSS) missed Street estimates and saw shares fall $1.31 to $50.93. Target (TGT) was a touch light with its sales, but shares were up 56 cents to $63.65. Still, the Standard & Poor's Retail Index ($RLX) was up 5.73 points to 668.44.

Facebook reports some good news, gets hit with bad
Facebook (FB) was up as much as 57 cents to $22.40 after reporting it had 1 billion active users. But the shares closed up 12 cents to $21.95. The shares are off 42% from their initial public offering price of $38 but have rebounded 25% since bottoming at $17.55 on Sept. 4.

After the close, shares of Zynga (ZNGA) were off 53 cents, or 18.7%, to $2.29 after the company said it would likely report a net loss of 12-to-14 cents a share in the third quarter cents. Revenue for the quarter was $300 to $305 million, better than Street estimates of $286 million.

It will also write off most of its $200 million purchase of OMGPOP, maker of the "Draw Something" game.

The company is struggling with slowing growth as users spend more time with mobile devices. Zynga gets most of its revenue from Facebook users. Facebook was off 37 cents after hours to $21.58.
Coal stocks jump on Romney support
Coal stocks appeared to generate investor interest after Mitt Romney said he liked coal as an energy source.

In addition to Alpha Natural Resources, Consol Energy (CNX) was the fourth-best performer in the S&P 500; Peabody Energy (BTU) was 11th.

Metals shares also moved up. U.S. Steel (X) rose 84 cents to $19.72, ninth among S&P 500 stocks. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) jumped $1.04 to $40.45. Alcoa (AA), which reports third-quarter earnings Tuesday, climbed 29 cents to $9.07 -- fourth among the 30 Dow stocks.

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Oil rebounds; gold at an 11-month high
Oil prices were higher today after getting drubbed on Wednesday. Light sweet crude oil (-CL) in New York was up $2.22 to $90.36 a barrel. Brent crude, traded in London, gained $2.28 to $110.45 a barrel.

The national average retail price for gasoline was $3.784 a gallon, up slightly from Wednesday's $3.782, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Gold (-GC), meanwhile, settled up $16.70 to $1,796.50 an ounce, its highest settlement price since Nov. 8, 2011. Silver (-SI) ended up $4.111 to $35.101 an ounce, and copper (-HG) settled at $3.786 a pound, up slightly from $3.784.

The 10-year Treasury yield was up to 1.665% from Wednesday's 1.623%. The dollar was lower.

Draghi is ready to buy government bonds
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank is ready to start buying government bonds as soon as the necessary conditions are fulfilled. That may take some time because the European Union is still debating the question.

The ECB kept interest rates on hold, leaving the benchmark rate at a historic low of 0.75%.

Many economists believe weakening economies in Europe will force the ECB to cut its base rate to 0.5% by the end of the year.

Indeed, as IHS Global Insight noted that ECB expects the "economy to remain weak in the near term and to recover only gradually thereafter."

Jobless claims rise but don't frighten
Initial jobless claims climbed 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 last week, the Labor Department said today. But economists had been looking for 370,000. The prior week's number was revised up to 363,000 from an initial reading of 359,000.

The four-week average of new claims, considered a better gauge, as it smooths out volatility, was unchanged at 375,000.

The number of planned layoffs at U.S. companies in September rose 4.9% after hitting a 20-month low in August, according to consultants Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Despite the relative increase, the latest reading marks a 15-year low in planned job cuts announced for the month of September.

But Challenger, Gray also noted that employers announced plans to HIRE 426,000. Don't get too excited, however. Most of those hires will be with retailers staffing up for the holiday shopping season.

A separate report today showed orders placed with U.S. factories fell in August by the most in more than three years. The 5.2% decrease followed a revised 2.6% increase in July, the Commerce Department said.

Short hits from the markets -- New York close



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Oct 4, 2012 3:00PM
Electing Mitt Romney is like signing a DNR order for the U.S.A.......

DNR=Do Not Resuscitate 
Oct 4, 2012 2:59PM

I gave my opinions already elsewhere,twice...But thought the debate was a sham for the viewers that tuned in..

We the American public were the only losers last night..IMO.


The Moderator Jim Lehr(sp) from PBS/NPR was pitiful and way out of his league.

It made for a very poor debate and wise usefullness of time..

With questions and specifics going un-answered.

Romney took advantage of him early on...Obama later in the debate.

Romney came with bulldog attacks and several lies or untruths..Obama didn't counter enough.

Obama although flustered a couple times because of repetition,and the Moderator; Remained Presidential.

Seem to be a fair amount of flip-flopping from previous positions by Romney...Obama did not attack them enough..IMO

Romney surprisingly kept his composure stoic, with the same expression most of the night.

Obama pretty much so also, but did wander a little...Like he had something else on his mind.?

Maybe an Anniversary wham-o ??

Probably Obama should have pointed out accomplishments or recovery gains better..

And attacked Romney on some of his plans..That won't work.


Score Romney 53% with the win to Obama's 47%...but Moderator -20% very bad.


Oct 4, 2012 2:56PM
Funny how this liberal MSN media source seems to have more conservatives responding below with thumbs up support.  Maybe the demos are scared to come out today after last night.
Oct 4, 2012 2:56PM
The only thing pushing this stock market is the tax payer dollars. I wish for once thay would just tell the truth...
Oct 4, 2012 2:55PM
Silver is just over 35 right now - so all the kings men can't keep the metals down when we print print print. - Hey at 35 your 60 cent dollar can still buy it. Good news - No?
Oct 4, 2012 2:51PM

I'm sorry but the jobless claims go up, but not as much as expected and we have a rally on Wall Street? Since they expected 370,000 to be looking for work and 367,000 was reported, that gives investors more confidence?

Then the report goes on to say that last months totals were adjusted up to 363,000 from the 359,000 reported. Thats a rise of 4,000 more looking for work than what was reported. If the same thing happends next month then the expected number looking for work will be met or passed. Where is the good news there? What? You get to be happy for a month until the real numbers are published.

The market is so screwed up anything other than a share stick in the eye seems to call for a rally. Even a sharp stick in the eye seems to be a cause for a rally if you can still see out of it, for a while.

God help us all.

Oct 4, 2012 2:48PM
what is not to get about Bank of America. there is litigation still out there that if successful would be about the book value of the company. If you read their quaterly report there are so many ifs and maybees. The savings they are reapiing   are nominal. The sales of assetts takes out quite a bit of income potential.
Oct 4, 2012 2:43PM
The dollar index is down over 1/2 point or 3/4% today. If this continues the market should go up along with commodities like oil and precious metals. There is a tough price to pay when this force plus the stimulus pushes up stock prices. Reality will set in, and it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when.
Oct 4, 2012 2:42PM
Time Magazine - Joe Kline 

Well, I’m with all the other talking heads: Mitt Romney won this debate. Barack Obama lost it. I mean, he got his butt kicked. It was, in fact, one of the most inept performances I’ve ever seen by a sitting President.

Oct 4, 2012 2:40PM

ABS NAZI BIGOT RACIST....I'm here, come and get it little boy.


Was last night good for the President? Of course not.


Was it as damaging as YOU think it was?  Again, of course not.


Wait for the media blitz...the Mittster used his etch a sketch....he totally lopped off the conservative wing of your party...namely he lopped YOU off.  So, it's going to be great to see all the commercials showing the Mitster as the super flip-flopper he is


But, there was some interesting things...the Mittster is going to lower the tax rates...but he'g going to bring the same revenue in from the Wealthy.....what a joke, does anyone have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn I can buy???   HAHAHAHA


Just for a mention, the moderator was a joke, but it was a joke to have a 78 year old man be the moderator....the Mittster was very wise taking Lehrer out of any substantial involvemen earlyt when he told Lehrer that he planned on killing Big Bird.... End of any kind of refereeing.on Lehrer's part.


Finallly...we can look at history on the first debates with an incumbent.


Mondale blew off Reagan in 84


Kerry blew off Bush in 04.


THE 13 KEYS are still out there......The President will win reelection  So bottom line, I'M NOT WORRIED AT ALL!!!!


357 Electoral Votes for the President

20-25 Seat Pick up of the Dems in the House

54 Seats in the Dem Caucus in the Senate (includes Sanders and King)...could be as high as 56 Seats,



Oct 4, 2012 2:37PM
Whatever the outcome of the 2012 election, we all will still be American's living in the dream or nightmare of our good or bad decisions.


Not me......If Mitt wins...I will wait until he changes the tax code so Mitt will NOT  pay any Federal Income Tax,  by eliminating  capital gains tax..  Then I will sell all the real-estate I have and get the hell out of a country that could Elect a Corrupt scum bag like Mitt Romney and a Corrupt party that has been taken over by Corporate America.........I will sell everything ASAP before the economy comes tumbling down....I lost 30 to 40 percent of value under Bush.....some of that has come back under President Obama.....I am not waiting around for a Mitt Romney and corporate America to take the rest.......
If the American people are that Stupid, even after serving my country, I would no longer want to be an American.....

Oct 4, 2012 2:35PM

So people are buying because they were happy with Mitt Romney's performance???....that's like having a smile on your face after you fart!!!  He hasn't even been elected & people are buying based on this???  I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale....any offers!!!!

Oct 4, 2012 2:28PM

We DO NOT need  another Kennedy in office and we DO NOT need another Reagan in office!


What we do need is an independent thinker..............who can actually look backwards over the last 40 years and undo all of the legislative screw ups that BOTH parties have made that brought this country to this point!

Oct 4, 2012 2:26PM
Headline should read:  "Markets up on Possibility of Romney Victory!"
Look, if a Romney a$$ kicking is this good for the market, imagine what Ryans' destruction of Biden is gonna look like, Biden is devastatingly incompetent and it will be a true comedy hour!
Oct 4, 2012 2:24PM
Mitt the chameleon...... used car salesman.......who once ran a race to the Left of Ted Kennedy, and in this election to the Right of Rick Perry.....  LMAO......

Oct 4, 2012 2:24PM
That unemployment rate also does not include all those who gave up looking and/or ran out of UID. So in realty, as confrimed by Bernake, the unemployment rate is substanially higher - and don't forget about all those about to loose their jobs in January due to sequestration.
Oct 4, 2012 2:20PM
The last 2 times the USA government was serious about doing something were WWII and the moon landing. All of the current challenges could be likewise solved if they ever get serious. Right now they're not serious.
Oct 4, 2012 2:19PM

Romney gave all the right reasons NOT to elect him in November!  Number one Reason......Reaganomics!  Remember what Reagan did:


Cut our tax deductions and increased deductions for the wealthy!  Gutted the Bankruptcy laws and Bush SR and JR completed that gutting along with re-instating the eminent domain laws which has allowed corporations and local governments to steal property from average citizens.

Oct 4, 2012 2:18PM

796,000 LESS jobs lost per month than under the Republican Bush.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market ended the holiday-shortened week on a mixed note as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 0.1%, while the S&P 500 added 0.1% with seven sectors posting gains.

Equity indices faced an uphill climb from the opening bell after disappointing quarterly results from Google (GOOG 536.10, -20.44) and IBM (IBM 190.04, -6.36) weighed on the early sentiment. Google reported earnings $0.15 below the Capital IQ consensus estimate on revenue of $15.42 ... More


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