NEW YORK—An encouraging report on the US labour market and better sales from retail stores helped push the stock market higher yesterday. The government said that 367,000 Americans sought unemployment benefits for the first time last week. That’s an increase from the previous week but fewer than economists had forecast. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 80.75 points to close at 13,575.36. Aluminium giant Alcoa led the 30 stocks in the Dow with a 3.3 per cent surge, rising 29 cents to US$9.07. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index climbed 10.41 points to 1,461.40. The Nasdaq composite rose 14.23 points to 3,149.46.
The job-market report helped drive the yield on the benchmark ten-year Treasury note up to 1.67 per cent from 1.62 per cent late Wednesday. Traders tend to sell Treasuries following better economic news. The Commerce Department said that orders to US factories came in better than forecasts, even though the 5.2 per cent drop in orders was the biggest in more than three years. Costco and other retail chain stores reported September sales that came in ahead of Wall Street’s estimates. Costco gained US$1.86 to US$101.48. Target rose 56 cents to US$63.65. The stock market barely moved following the release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes from its meeting last month, when the Fed hatched a new open-ended programme to spend US$40 billion a month on mortgage bonds.
The key event this week comes Friday morning when the Labor Department releases its monthly jobs report. Economists forecast that the unemployment rate inched up to 8.2 per cent in September from 8.1 per cent in August. The major stock market indexes have climbed steadily higher to start October. The Dow rose 78 points Monday after the Institute for Supply Management said its gauge of manufacturing rose in September for the first time in four months. For the month, the Dow is up an even 1 per cent and the S&P 500 is up 1.4 per cent.
Among other stocks making big moves:
—Google rose US$5.55 to US$768.05. The Internet giant and US publishers announced they had settled a seven-year dispute over Google’s book-scanning project. A lawsuit filed by authors remains, though.
—Sprint Nextel sank 2 per cent, or 11 cents, to US$5.09. Reports said the wireless carrier may launch a competing bid for MetroPCS Communications. That would pit Sprint against Deutsche Telekom, which plans to merge MetroPCS with its T-Mobile USA unit.
—Avery Dennison’s stock dropped following news that 3M Co.dissolved an agreement to buy Avery Dennison’s office and consumer products division. The Department of Justice had threatened to block the deal, saying that the sale to 3M, the maker of Post-It notes, would curtail competition in the market for sticky labels. Avery Dennison lost US$1.38 to US$30.07. (AP)