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MENAFN - AFP - 01/11/2012

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(MENAFN - AFP) Some buoyant data on consumer confidence and the manufacturing sector gave Wall Street a solid bump higher Thursday after Wednesday's flat reopening following the Hurricane Sandy shutdown.

The data trumped another mixed bag of earnings and dull forecasts for the coming months from companies like ExxonMobil and Pfizer.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished solidly higher at 13,232.62, a gain of 136.16 points (1.04 percent).

The broad-based S&P 500 rose 15.43 (1.09 percent) to 1,427.59, while the Nasdaq added 42.83 (1.44 percent) at 3,020.06.

"A slew of positive economic reports complemented better-than-expected reads on manufacturing activity out of China to give US equities a much-needed boost today," Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said.

The encouraging economic indicators lifted investor sentiment ahead of Friday's keenly awaited October jobs report, the final snapshot of the economy before the November 6 election.

The markets jumped higher on a gain in consumer confidence: the Conference Board index for October rose to 72.2 in October, up from a revised 68.4 in September and better than forecasts.

Also helping was a slight rise in the ISM's purchasing manager index for the industrial sector, to 51.7 percent from September's 51.5 percent reading.

And the auto industry reported that sales continued to climb in October, even as Hurricane Sandy curbed sales on the heavily populated northeastern coast on the last three days of the month.

General Motors shares rose 0.7 percent and Ford climbed 0.8 percent. Each company's shares had rocketed higher on Wednesday after they turned in better-than-expected quarterly earnings.

On the 30-stock Dow, 26 stocks ended in positive territory, led by Bank of America, up 4.5 percent, and Microsoft, up 3.5 percent.

Caterpillar gained 2.8 percent helped by a promising rise in China's purchasing managers index.

ExxonMobil was up 0.5 percent after beating forecasts with a 7 percent fall in earnings.

Wal-Mart was the biggest blue-chip laggard, down 2.1 percent, followed by Pfizer, down 1.3 percent after the drug maker disappointed with a 14 percent fall in net income and lowered guidance for the rest of the year.

Bond prices slipped: the 10-year US Treasury yield rose to 1.72 percent from 1.69 percent late Wednesday, and the 30-year rose to 2.90 percent from 2.85 percent.

Prices move inversely to yields.


 






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