Closing Bell for Thursday on Wall Street: Markets Rise to New Highs on Jobs Report

U.S. equity markets opened higher this morning following upward revisions from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on non-farm payrolls in February and March and a larger-than-expected rise in payrolls in April (more coverage here). The S&P 500 index topped 1,600 and the DJIA rose to a new high above 15,000 following the news (more coverage here). Even a weaker report on factory orders couldn’t hold back the enthusiasm (more coverage here). In Europe, the producer price index fell in line with expectations and the U.K.’s PMI rose a bit more than expected. In Asia, China’s non-manufacturing PMI fell, while Australia’s producer price index rose more than expected. But all the really good economic news came from the U.S. and markets responded in kind.

The U.S. dollar index is trading down 0.14% today, now at 82.105. The GSCI commodity index is up 1.9% at 622.62. WTI crude oil closed up 1.7%, at $95.61 a barrel to close the week with a gain of 2.8%. Brent crude trades up 1.4% at $104.29 a barrel. Natural gas is up 0.6% today at about $4.05 per million BTUs. Gold settled down 0.2% today at $1,464.20 an ounce and closed the week up 0.7%.

The unofficial closing bells put the DJIA up more than 141 points to 14,972.81 (0.95%), the NASDAQ rose about 38 points (1.14%) to 3,378.63, and the S&P 500 rose 1.05% or nearly 17 points to 1,614.34.

There were a several analyst upgrades and downgrades today, including:

  • Allstate Inc. (NYSE: ALL) raised to “Conviction Buy” list at Goldman Sachs;
  • Western Refining Inc. (NYSE: WNR) raised to ‘outperform’ at Credit Suisse;
  • AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. (NYSE: AU) cut to ‘sell’ at Goldman Sachs;
  • Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY) cut to ‘sell’ at Cantor Fitzgerald; and
  • MBIA Inc. (NYSE: MBI) cut to ‘strong sell’ at S&P Capital IQ.

Earnings reports since markets closed last night resulted in some price moves today, including these as of the last half hour of trading:

  • American International Group Inc. (NYSE: AIG) is up 6.1% at $44.69 after posting a new 52-week high of $44.90 earlier today;
  • Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ: GILD) is up 5.8% at $55.18 after posting a new 52-week high of $56.35 earlier today;
  • Kraft Foods Group Inc. (NASDAQ: KRFT) is up 5.1% at $53.11 after posting a new 52-week high of $54.10 earlier today;
  • LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE: LNKD) is down 13.3% at $174.82 (more coverage here);
  • SunPower Corp. (NASDAQ: SPWR) is down 2.4% at $14.93 (more coverage here);
  • Automatic Data Processing Inc. (NYSE: ADT) is up 2.7% at $69.21, a new 52-week high; and
  • Duke Energy Corp. (NYSE: DUK) is down 0.5% at $74.41.

Before markets open Monday morning we are scheduled to hear earnings reports from Apollo Global Management LLC (NYSE: APO), Bridgepoint Education Inc. (NYSE: BPE), Sysco Corp. (NYSE: SYY), and Westlake Chemical Corp. (NYSE: WLK).

Some standouts among heavily traded stocks today include:

Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARNA) is down 9% at $7.64. The drug maker has withdrawn its application for approval of a weight-loss drug in Europe. More coverage here.

American Capital Agency Corp. (NASDAQ: AGNC) is down 8.1% at $30.42. The mortgage REIT reported terrible results after markets closed last night.

Weatherford International Inc. (NYSE: WFT) is up 8.3% at $13.74. The oil field services company expects a profit boost from its Mexican operations.

Stay tuned for Monday. We have noted the following events on the schedule (all times Eastern):

  • 11:30 a.m. – 3- and 6-month bill auctions
  • 3:00 p.m. – Treasury STRIPS

Have a great weekend!

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