Stocks rise on jobs, factory data
Jobless claims climb less than expected, and US factory orders fall less than forecast. The ECB holds rates steady as Draghi says the ECB is ready to buy bonds. Google warns of more cuts at Motorola. Facebook now has 1 billion active users.
U.S. stocks mostly added to gains Thursday after jobless claims rose less than expected and factory orders fell less forecast. Adding to optimism was the European Central Bank President comments the bank is primed to buy bonds when necessary. Investors also await the minutes from last month's Federal Open Market Committee meeting. Tech, however, lagged the general rally as Hewlett-Packard, Facebook shares declined.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU) was up 66 points at 13,561. The S&P 500 ($INX) was up 7 points at 1,458. The Nasdaq Composite ($COMPX) was up 1 point at 3,136.
Is Romney's strong performance driving futures higher?
Wall Street will also react to the first presidential debate Wednesday night, which ended with President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney discussing economic issues, including their views on Medicare, taxes, budget deficits and how to boost economic growth.
While nothing new was revealed in the debate, many pundits agree that Romney put on a strong performance. Some argue that this could have been driving stock futures higher.
In the end, it's all about jobs
The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000 last week, the Labor Department said Thursday. Economists had expected claims to rise to between 365,000 and 370,000, according to different estimates.
Initial claims from two weeks ago were revised up to 363,000 from an original reading of 359,000, based on more complete data collected at the state level.
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.
On Wednesday, stronger-than-expected jobs figures and activity in the services sector helped offset weak data in Asia and Europe as the Dow industrials managed to climb 12.25 points to 13,494.61.
The different employment reports come ahead of Friday's all-important nonfarm payrolls data. Economists expect 120,000 jobs were created in September, according to Briefing.com, and the unemployment rate to remain steady at 8.1%.
Factory data and the Fed minutes
Orders placed with U.S. factories fell 5.2% in August -- the most since January 2009 a, signaling that slowdowns in business investment and exports restrained the economic expansion. Economists had predicted a fall of 6%, according to Briefing.com. The Commerce Department also revised July's 2.8% increase down to 2.6%
Factories are feeling the effects of Europe's economic troubles and the slowdown in growth in China and other Asian markets. In addition, concerns about the U.S. fiscal cliff of tax increases and government spending cuts set for January also are putting the brakes on business investment, which has been a mainstay of the expansion, Bloomberg reported.
At 2 p.m. ET, the Fed will release the minutes from its latest policy meeting on Sept. 12 and 13, when the bank announced its third round of quantitative easing.
Asia reacts to debate, while Europe slightly higher on Draghi
Asia stocks closed mostly higher, led by Japan, as exporters got a boost from a weaker yen. Many analysts suggest Asian markets were reacting to advancing U.S. stock futures as Romney performed well in the debate.
Meanwhile, both the Bank of England and the European Central Bank left key rates unchanged. ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank is ready to start buying government bonds as soon as the necessary conditions are fulfilled by any countries needing assistance. This, he said, has already calmed financial markets.
Draghi said that European growth is expected to remain weak and recover gradually. Yet he repeated that the euro is irreversible and that risks are on the downside and should be contained by effective policy action.
Draghi added that while there's been significant progress in Spain, many challenges remain. Investors await to see when Spain will ask for aid, triggering the ECB's bond-buying plan. European markets were slightly higher Thursday.
Retailers report September sales
U.S. retailers will be in focus Thursday, with many reporting same-store sales for September. In general, September sales looked solid, not stellar, Reuters reported, after the back-to-school shopping season and ahead of the holiday season.
Gap's (GPS) September same-store sales increased by 6%, ahead of the estimate of 5.4% in a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters. Macy's (M) reported same-store sales increased by 2.7%, below growth estimates of 3.3%. Kohl's (KSS) September sales fell 2.7%, while analysts expected a drop of just 0.2%.
Stocks to watch
Facebook (FB) shares rose as the social network reached a milestone of 1 billion active monthly users.
Google (GOOG) expects to expand job cuts at its Motorola Mobility unit beyond previously announced U.S. cuts. The company will take a $340 million third-quarter charge in severance and other costs.
Shares of NuVasive (NUVA) sank, continuing sharp losses from late Wednesday after the medical device company cut its quarterly sales outlook.
Applied Materials (AMAT) will take $180 million to $230 million in charges before taxes as it reduces its global headcount by 6% to 9% -- 900 to 1,300 positions. The cost savings will help the company fund its key growth initiatives.
FREE trade agreements.
FREE (not fair) trade agreements only help investors in other countries and the companies that set up shop there. They do not help middle class Americans except to give us more variety of CRAP at WalMart. FREE trade can hurt American jobs.
I feel the same way. Something just isn't right here.
EVERYONE needs to see these two videos:
"Fall of The Republic" part one and part two, and the "Obama Deception".
They will scare the H*ll out of you, but seeing what's going on around the world and in America today it's hard to dismiss the evidence that they bring out...
Blue team red team. This has been manufactured to get us to hate each other.
Our system has failed!! We will need to come together and start over with a truly representitive government once the dollar collapses.
Consider this - Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Bill Maher, Michael Moore, the Huff Post just to name a few, are all allegedly "really worried" based on Obama's performance. Really? Apparently all the Dem talking heads are allegedly down in the dumps about Obama now. Doesn't this sound suspicious? If you have all the Dem journalists allegedly lined up and lamenting the performance of their guy, something just isn't right. None of this is adding up.
As incompetent as he is, there's no way Obama did THAT poorly last night. And if he did, there's no way all his backers in the MSM would legitimately respond like they have. Warning bells and sirens are going off big time right now. Are you listening? Not everything is as it appears. And there's no way you can convince me that all this alleged sadness and lamentation on the part of Dem pundits last night isn't part of some ploy or strategy. If you are buying into their despair, you're a sucker.
I see the Obama haters are out in full force today.If Obama would have handed everybody
in the country a milliom bucks out of his own pocket they`d complain.
Claims from last time were adjusted up. WHAT A SURPRISE!
El Retardo committed suicide last night when he found out Mitt was going to take him off the dole and give him a job!
Har har har!
Traders, please take notice!!!
I like it when the market goes up!
Imagine what it will be like with a president Romney? I expect a 1,000 point up week!
Har har har!
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