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.

By Melly Alazraki Oct 4, 2012 9:18AM
stock marketLast updated 12:01 p.m. ET

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, 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 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.

Already, Costco Wholesale (COST) reported a 6% gain for September same-store sales and an 8% rise for total sales. Target (TGT) reported a same-store-sales rise of 2.1% in September.

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

Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) edged lower after falling 13% Wednesday on a disappointing 2013 earnings outlook.

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.
Oct 4, 2012 9:51AM
Once again, my prediction that Romney would make Obama look foolish in the debate was SPOT ON !! Romney is much more in touch with the issues that face our nation than Obama-and it showed last night. ROMNEY 2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oct 4, 2012 10:04AM
Pretty sad testament when one of your most staunch supporters, Bill Mahr tweets;

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but Obama looked like he needed a teleprompter. He made a lot of good points. Unfortunately, they were all FOR Romney."
Oct 4, 2012 10:14AM
If the debates stick to topics that REALLY effect the well being of our country, it's going to be a LONG month for Obama.
Oct 4, 2012 10:00AM
Stocks rise because the azz whoopin' Obama took last night is reverberating around the world.
Oct 4, 2012 9:49AM
After the dust settles the liberal media will resume their attack on everything that has made America great.  The POTUS will be coddled by his servants and after a quick rub down will continue on his merry path of being a celebrity.  You and I will still be left standing here with an economic mess and a future that still feels dubiuos and out of control. The chaos this administration thrives on will continue and any positive ideas for how all of us can work together and solve our problems will be attacked and the messenger demonized.  So my feeling about our jobs as citizens is allow ourself but a quick blink and savor that for but 1 1/2 hours  truth and reality reared its head; but just for  that quick moment, but man did it look and feel good.
Oct 4, 2012 10:08AM

I'm off to go heckle Obummer at his rally at Sloan Lake.  Here's some tweets I copied and pasted from another website, discussing the brown clown's sad performance last night.  For your reading amusement.....



*This is a businessman, talking business, to a grad student. Obama should be taking notes and asking for an extension.


*Media coddled Captain Precious, and are now sad he got stomped. Sometimes beta males need to fight.


*Watching MSNBC discuss the debate is like watching the Titanic discuss the iceberg.


*Obama is rolling down a mountain like Homer Simpson hitting every rock along the way.


*Obama is now like a Best Buy employee trying to sell you something he cannot fully explain.

Oct 4, 2012 10:28AM
Wow...  after watching last nights debate, Obama came across as arrogant, mean and clueless.

Even I thought he was better than this.  He came across as a socialist imbecile.  I guess he was right to ask for a teleprompter.  He stuttered, mumbled and clearly was clueless about economics. 

Is he really as dumb as he looked last night?  
Oct 4, 2012 9:59AM


I watched the debate all the way through last night. It is painfully obvious that even President Obama cannot list or explain the things that have made you so "happy" over the last 3.5 years. So, if he can't explain, I'll withdraw my request for you to do it.




Oct 4, 2012 10:04AM
The libs got way too spoiled by left wing moderators at the debates last time around. Now we get a moderator that's less biased, and stays pretty much out of the actual conversation. (except when he tried to help Obama get his foot out of his mouth once)
The candidates have to spar based on their own ability and knowledge, and Obama looks like a second grade debate queen.

 Now the moderator's an idiot, it was a farce, Romney lied, yada, yada, yada.......

Oct 4, 2012 10:24AM

Sorry lefties, Romney won that round.  ABS will be in fine form today I'm sure, he gets to until the next debate. 

Obama now needs to tell us why he needs to be prez for 4 more years, he didn't make the case as to what he still needs to do.  Many of us here have posted what he needs to do and he has said it before but he did not articulate well during that debate.  He had the election won, narrowly, now it is game on again.  He seemed completly uninterested in even being there and you would think enthusiasm would be important for a president.

At least there was a lot of substance in that debate, very encouraging.

Oct 4, 2012 11:25AM

As strong as Romney looked last night I don't think we have yet to see his strongest quality.  He will bring; of course hoping and if he is elected,  many many very smart and dedicated business people into his administration and this will benefit all of us.  I believe only 8% of the present administrative slots have folks with any private sector experience. Not too much  difficulty understanding how this present clusteref of beaucrats have managed to creat so much chaos. But man the time and money wasted to prove to all of us they have no clue.  Very Very sad.

Oct 4, 2012 10:52AM
Oct 4, 2012 11:01AM

I hope some of you caught what Mitt said about taxes. He repeated it three times that he won't cut the taxes of the RICH. What he will do is cut the taxes of the non-rich ( less than $250K?), but he'll eliminate some deductions to make the tax cut revenue neutral.


So you might ask what is the purpose of a revenue-neutral tax cut? This is where Mitt's business expereince showed.  Small businesses, which create most of the jobs in this country, are taxed at the personal rate (not the corporate), so the tax cut will benefit small business and in turn help create jobs.


These are the kind of ideas that help restore business confidence and be a start to turn this economy around. Remember most people in this country want a job not welfare!


Right on Mitt!

Oct 4, 2012 10:41AM

Obama had a lot to be ashamed about, $90,000,000,000 given to so called green companies, over 50% political contributors and money bundlers, who set up companies that went out of business when the checks cleared the bank. Obama's eyes were cast down and many times he displayed the stupid looking tell tale grin that says, you got me. I kept thinking of the lyrics from Cage The Elephant,

"In my past, bittersweet,
There's no love between the sheets,
Taste the blood, broken dreams,
Lonely times indeed,
With eyes cast down,
Fixed upon the ground,
Eyes cast down".

"Trickle down government isn't working"

Oct 4, 2012 10:05AM
TIWITs comment before the debate;
"It's will be like watching someone trying to play poker for money but has no chips.....and can't even ante up....much less play and compete.."

Obama gets Obiotch Slapped, and now TIWIT says;
"Watching Morning Joe.......It took almost an hour before anyone on the show even mentioned  the change of positions and flat outright Lies by Mitt Romney....."

Did it really take that long for them to stop talking about how Obama made himself look like a complete idiot?
Just more mindless spew. 
No worries!
There's always
Joe ( is that one of my toes sticking out my azz ) Biden to make a comeback in the VP debate!
Oct 4, 2012 10:38AM
I loved Mitt Romney and his family last night!!! What an intelligent, genuine family man!  Mitt loves America......and the American dream......:) Go Mitt!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oct 4, 2012 10:37AM
Every time they showed him looking down at the floor I could imagine him thinking........ "Where is that little voice in my ear that used to tell me what to say"
Oct 4, 2012 11:19AM
As usual the millions of parasitic TV political analysts are picking over the bones of the debate, telling us who won, discussing in great detail the facial expressions of the two candidates. Why can't they just all shut up. They don't know any more than we do. In fact, our opinions are far superior if only because we're not rotten paid schills. 
Oct 4, 2012 10:56AM
Dems are starting to get shook up over the truth.
Oct 4, 2012 11:10AM

Obama speaks in a ration of 1.5:1 to Romney's time during the debate, yet still loses badly.


The more Obama rambled the less sense he made, and Romney sat back and watched Obama ramble and stumble along.......'


How many times did Obama jump the issues, especially when the economy was the main issue?


Romney destroyed Obama in the debate, and the markets are flourishing because of it!  Obama's house of cards is tumbling as we speak..........

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