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 1:45PM
it was that funny!  Watch the stumbling bumbling idiot without teleprompts.  Lehrer tried to assiist him and he still was the made the fool!   This will only get more obvious....which was that obvious from the get go.  Any numbers posted by MNSBC are just that stinko and it will not change!  Just enjoy this fiasco as it is great theater,  Gotta love it! 
Oct 4, 2012 1:35PM
"8 years of Reagan, 12 years of  Bush SR. and  JR. Social Security still here, medicare still here, medicaid still here."

Somewhat of a testament to the relevance and strength of those programs. Over a decade worth of anti-Americans sabotaging those programs and millions of minions crippling our greatness to bolster GOP fake-ness... and yet, we are here still. Big Media pumps the Romney vote but you know what... no one listens to you lowlifes any longer. We know where America is going and we stopped sipping the Kool Aid long ago.
Oct 4, 2012 1:29PM
8 years of Reagan, 12 years of  Bush SR. and  JR. Social Security still here, medicare still here, medicaid still here. The liberal scare tactics every election are worn out. Might want to consider coming up with something new.
Oct 4, 2012 1:27PM
When does gloom and doom cause the market to go up? When does people being unemployed cause the market to go up? This all goes along with how this country is right now, a JOKE!!! I thought Obama was creating jobs??? All I hear is people getting layed off by the thousands. If you people think this President is taking this country forward then you better think again. It was proven to the American people last night with FACTS where this country is headed and it ain't forward. Obama is a liar and a cheat, he was shocked last night with the facts that Romney displayed to him. He didn't have the teleprompter to let him know what to say. It was so funny to watch him stumble and fall. Look at the facts about the last 4 years and ask yourself it you want to continue in that direction. Obama was all about working together to make America a better place, well all you Democrats out there need to look at this election with an open mind and work with the Replicans and get a President in there that is TRULY going to help American move forward, not just blow smoke up your a##!!!!!!! Don't be stupid and make the same mistake twice.
Oct 4, 2012 1:10PM
These continually revised jobs numbers from one month to the next are a joke!  Every week the number barely beet estimates...and Wall Street cheers. And then last weeks actual results are revised up the next week by 2,000 to 10,000... so the net result was worse than expected.   BUT, this all gets buried in the next weeks news that also, amazingly, beats expectations, and then the cycle continues...  This Obama Regime is crooked!  I can only imagine this is how the Hitler Regime would have handled this stuff too.  In fact, last nights debate was also likely a lot likely a Hitler debate If he had any competition.  Our media not vetting Obama for 5 years has been a disservice to our society, and If they had done their job Hillary Clinton would likely be president today!
Oct 4, 2012 1:10PM

Obama is done. Stick a fork in him!


I'm hoping my new mansion will soon be done. The construction has been going on for well over a year!


It is wonderful to be me. I subscribe to the Mitt Romney principles of wealth creation - I think and work hard!


Har har har!

Oct 4, 2012 1:06PM

you know what they say about opinions...rofl


Oct 4, 2012 1:02PM

Stopped in at an employment agency the other day to sign up...........Woman there told me she had been out of work for 5 1/2 years before she landed this job.  I know other people with similar stories, out 8 years, 6, 3, years.  So again, the fact is folks...........It's the economy!


Boy, that makes us all feel good now doesn't it?

Oct 4, 2012 12:59PM
Who writes this crap, one of o'bama's speech writers.
Oct 4, 2012 12:56PM
If there were no conservatives there would be no one to support the liberals.

Think about it.

Oct 4, 2012 12:41PM
jobless claims aren't as bad as feared but overall jobless claims are up and rising and more companies are laying off people, hello? Now does this make any sense at all, NO!
Oct 4, 2012 12:40PM

If you believe Romney when he says to end Obamacare and I`ll replace it,I have a bridge

to see you.He`ll end SS, medicare,medicad,etc,etc and then brag he balanced the

budget.He`s right.He`ll do it on the common man`s back.

Oct 4, 2012 12:39PM
Stocks moved higher because the Kenyan tanked in the debate.
Oct 4, 2012 12:35PM

Jobless claims rise but don't frighten
Initial jobless claims climbed 4,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 367,000 last week



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