Stocks Rally on Solid ADP Data; Nasdaq at New High

(Reuters) —
stocks, Wall street, markets
(AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday in a broad-based rally, spurred by a blowout private-employment data that reinforced the strength of the economy.

U.S. companies added 263,000 workers in March, the most since December 2014 and well above economists’ expectations of 187,000.

The report by payrolls processor ADP acts as a precursor to Friday’s nonfarm payrolls data that includes hiring in both the public and private sectors.

“The GDP number was recently revised upward, jobs continue to look good, inflation is moving in the right direction …(ADP) was just another piece of the puzzle that gives the market some confidence that we are still on track,” said Myles Clouston, senior director at Nasdaq Advisory Services in New York.

All the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were up, with financials and technology giving the biggest boost.

The Nasdaq hit an all-time high, buoyed by Amazon, Microsoft and Apple touching record highs.

At 12:33 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 152.3 points, or 0.74 percent, at 20,841.54; the S&P 500 was up 14.66 points, or 0.62 percent, at 2,374.82.

The Nasdaq Composite was up 30.62 points, or 0.52 percent, at 5,929.23. It hit a record of 5,933.77.

The ADP report drew investors back into the market after a period of range-bound trading amid worries about President Donald Trump’s ability to deliver on his policy plans after recent setbacks in Congress.

However, investors are cautiously awaiting a meeting between Mr. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping that starts on Thursday.

The meeting, which Mr. Trump expects will be a “very difficult one”, is likely to focus on North Korea’s arms program and China-U.S. trade.

Lofty market valuations – in the wake of the post-election rally – will be tested when the first-quarter earnings season starts next week.

“Valuations from a historical standpoint are in the high end but as long as earnings growth and GDP continue to do well, there is argument that they are justified,” Mr. Clouston said.

Panera Bread jumped nearly 14 percent to $311.96 after JAB Holdings said it would buy the bakery chain for $7.16 billion.

The Federal Reserve will release the minutes of its March policy meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,865 to 966. On the Nasdaq, 1,532 issues rose and 1,203 fell.

The S&P 500 index showed 34 52-week highs and three lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 62 highs and 35 lows.

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