U.S. stocks are showing strength after a slow start to the holiday shortened week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up by 100 points, and the S&P 500 and NASDAQ are both up over 1 percent so far today. The stock market is also being buoyed by positive economic data released today. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, first-time applicants for unemployment benefits dropped to 418,000 last week, a huge drop from 432,000 from the week prior. Payroll company Automatic Data Processing also said that the private sector added 157,000 employees last month, with most of the hiring comping from small businesses. Economists were expecting half that number since only 36,000 jobs were added in May. Wall Street is now watching even closer for tomorrow’s report on nonfarm payrolls. Another encouraging sign for investors came from stronger sales reports from some of the world’s largest retailers. Companies like Target (TGT), Gap (GPS), Saks (SKS) and Nordstrom (JWN) saw sales rise year-over-year in June. The numbers suggest that consumers are being lured by both high-end and deep-discount retail purchases. Oil prices pushed higher to trade above $98 a barrel, and gold is relatively flat despite silver trading higher by 2 percent.
Major U.S. Stock Indices
DJIA: 12,727.44 (+0.80 percent)
S&P 500: 1,353.62 (+1.08 percent)
NASDAQ: 2,874.17 (+1.42 percent)
Russell 2000: 859.49 (+1.69 percent)
In other news:
- Are Republicans to blame for the U.S.’s inability to figure out a debt solution? The Economist seems to think so. [Economist]
- President Barack Obama says White House negotiations with Congressional leaders were “very constructive” but the sides still seem pretty far apart. [NY Times]
- News of the World, the U.K.’s best-selling tabloid owned by Ruppert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWS), is shutting down due to allegations of the paper using unethical phone hacking tactics. [WSJ]
- The world’s largest 500 companies. Wal-Mart (WMT) stays on top, with four oil companies–Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A), Exxon Mobil (XOM), BP (BP) and Sinopec (SNP)–rounding out the top five. [Fortune]
- 14 Stocks for retiring baby boomers. [CNBC]
Check back for more news.