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.

Article continues below.
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 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!"
Oct 4, 2012 2:25PM
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.
Oct 4, 2012 2:15PM
The stock market is UP because of last nights debate! Hope is on the way. President Romney will resurect the economy and investors know that.
Oct 4, 2012 2:14PM
Obama got de-pants by the Mormon. I'll bet Micheele gave him an earful when he got home. No way sugar momma wants to move back to the war zone that is Chicago.
Oct 4, 2012 2:11PM

Romney won the debate. Was very professional. The President struggled, stuttered, was unsure. Romney nailed it and stayed the course. Still not sure about what he's going to do for the middle class. We need more allowances for sure.


Shrinking government is the way to go and letting each state control there own health care education - rewarding successful and fiscal responsibility for each state with tax/vouchers and funding.



Oct 4, 2012 2:10PM

Romney thinks like Reagan (remember that idiot).............Does he have Alzheimers too? 

Oct 4, 2012 2:02PM

Thought I'd re-post this for the afternoon folks.

Most of you need to read up on this!!!


According to the DSM-international psychiatric diagnostic manual update;

Internet -use disorder will now be listed as a mental illness.

If you spend hours online, have sex more frequently than aging psychiatrists & moan incessantly that the federal government can't account for all of it's tarp funds, then take heed!! You may soon be classed among the 48 million the APA already considers mentally ill.


I think I see a new business opportunity in helping you; you sit at your keyboards to receive even more government support, & I can bill for services rendered in helping you with your condition under vocational rehabilitation & Association for Persons with Disabilities.


Liberal services can be profitable with this group!!!


Now it's time to go fishing-C-YA!!!

Oct 4, 2012 2:01PM
The point I was trying to make......oh why bother. Believe what you want to believe V_L your still sipping the cool-aid and you have my sympathies.
Oct 4, 2012 2:00PM

Stocks are up today because Romney's performance in last night's debate gave his supporters new hope.  He did a better job than Obama of staying focused on jobs, jobs, jobs.  While Obama's performance wasn't terrible, he wasn't nearly as focused as Romney. 


Romney will need to get much more specific about his deficit reduction plan.  So far, the numbers just don't add up.  You can't cut tax rates 20% across the board and make up the difference through closing loopholes, unless you eliminate deductions for mortgage interest and charitable contributions, which would be political suicide. You can't cut federal spending enough to make much difference without cuts to defense. Moving  Medicaid to the states and cutting off funding for PBS and Amtrak won't even get close.

Oct 4, 2012 1:59PM
I wonder how the Far Right likes Mitt's new positions on Healthcare......after saying he would model a Healthcare plan after Romneycare......  even though we all know he was lying.....I really liked when he said pre-existing conditions will be covered under his plan.....LOL.....
I really liked how he said he thinks we should hire more teachers after saying not long ago we didn't need anymore teachers....

I wonder what NEW positions Mitt will have today..?
Oct 4, 2012 1:56PM
One more prediction...........I think Uncle Ben is going to be on the unemployment lines no matter who wins the election.  Both parties are sick of his market manipulation!
Oct 4, 2012 1:53PM
"Big Media pumps the Romney vote....."

this place has really gone off the rails.....
Oct 4, 2012 1:47PM
Four week moving average UNCHANGED at 375,000 says it all.  Current week is 4,000 less than expected, but prior week was revised Up 4,000.  Nothing is changing in the jobs market.  The Unemployment number tomorrow should stay at 8.1%  (Maybe 8.0 or 8.2%).   Maybe investors will CHEER if it falls to 8.0.
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[BRIEFING.COM] The stock market finished an upbeat week on a mixed note. The S&P 500 shed less than a point, ending the week higher by 1.3%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+0.1%) cemented a 1.7% advance for the week. High-beta names underperformed, which weighed on the Nasdaq Composite (-0.3%) and the Russell 2000 (-1.3%).

Equity indices displayed strength in the early going with the S&P 500 tagging the 2,019 level during the opening 30 minutes of the action. However, ... More


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