Jobs drive Dow, S&P to records in short session

NEW YORK: Wall Street's holiday-shortened session ended with multiple records on Thursday, with the Dow topping 17,000 for the first time after the June jobs report came in much stronger than expected.

Both the Dow and S&P 500 ended at their third consecutive record highs. The Nasdaq ended at its highest since 2000 and rose for a third straight week. The three major indexes wrapped up a week of solid gains on the day before the Independence Day holiday, when the US stock market will be closed.

The US economy added 288,000 jobs in June, racing past the 212,000 that economists had expected. The US unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent, the lowest since September 2008, confirming expectations that the economy bounced back in the second quarter after a dismal start to the year.

Thursday's gains were broad, with nine of the 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes rising for the day. The only negative group was utilities, down 1.1 per cent. The utilities sector struggled as the June jobs data suggested that the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates earlier than had previously been anticipated. Investors favor utilities in a low interest-rate environment because the sector is a dividend play.

"The report was very good and a real sign the economy is starting to take off," said David Kelly, chief global strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York, which has about US$450 billion in assets under management. "That said, it isn't an unmixed positive for the market because it suggests the Fed will consider raising rates in the first quarter."

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 92.02 points or 0.54 per cent, to 17,068.26. The S&P 500 gained 10.82 points or 0.55 per cent, to 1,985.44. The Nasdaq Composite added 28.19 points or 0.63 per cent, to 4,485.93.

For the week, the Dow rose 1.3 per cent, the S&P 500 advanced 1.25 per cent and the Nasdaq climbed two per cent. With the week's gains, the Nasdaq has gained for seven of the past eight weeks, rising more than 10 per cent over that period.

The Dow is underperforming other major indexes so far this year, with blue chips up about three per cent in 2014. Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq have gained more than seven per cent.

About 55 per cent of stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange ended higher, while 64 per cent of Nasdaq-listed stocks closed in positive territory.

Volume was extremely light in the shortened session, with only 3.49 billion shares traded on all US platforms, according to BATS exchange data. The five-day average is 6.29 billion.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average closed at a record 8,294.74, after hitting an intraday all-time high at 8,298.17.

PetSmart Inc was the S&P 500's biggest gainer, jumping 12.5 per cent to US$67.28 in its largest one-day advance since May 2012. The rally came after activist hedge fund Jana Partners LLC said it planned to ask PetSmart to explore a sale and reported a 9.9 per cent stake in the retailer.

Paccar Inc shares rose 5.4 per cent to US$67.25 after analysts published comments in a research note from a senior executive of Daimler, who said he heard Volkswagen was planning a bid for the truck maker, a claim that Volkswagen denied.

Regado Biosciences plummeted 58.4 percent to US$2.81 after the Data Safety Monitoring Board started an unplanned review of data from a trial and the company said patient enrollment has been put on hold until the DSMB returns with recommendations.-- Reuters