Stocks powered to new all-time highs, joining a global stock rally kicked off by a better-than-expected factory reading from China that was reinforced by strong U.S. economic reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 131 points, or 0.9%, to 15629 in midmorning trading, after hitting a new all-time intraday high. The S&P 500-stock index added 18 points, or 1.1%, to 1704, topping 1700 for the first time to notch its own all-time intraday high. Financial stocks led all 10 of the S&P 500's sectors higher.
The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 40 points, or 1.1%, to 3666.
Consumer-staples giant Procter & Gamble's PG +1.45% was near the top of the Dow's leader board after the company's sales and unit volume improved, though quarterly earnings fell amid restructuring and other charges.
Exxon Mobil XOM -2.29% was one of few Dow members in the red after the company's quarterly earnings came in below Wall Street's estimates.
Thursday's stock rally kicked off in Asia, after an unexpectedly strong reading on Chinese factory activity. The official manufacturing purchasing managers' index for July came in above the reading that separates expansion from contraction. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average surged 2.5%. China's Shanghai Composite jumped 1.8%.
Europe added its own round of upbeat data. Markit's euro-zone purchasing managers' index showed expansion in July, while a similar reading from the U.K. expanded at the fastest pace in more than two years. The Stoxx Europe 600 climbed 1.1%.
"China data spilled into Europe, and then economic data was strong here," said Seth Setrakian, co-head of domestic equities at First New York Securities. "There's no bad news to sell."
The upbeat string of economic data continued in the U.S., where workers seeking new unemployment benefits fell to a five-year low last week. Separately, a reading on manufacturing activity expanded in July at the fastest pace in 13 months.
"The economic backdrop continues to be favorable for equities," said Terry Sandven, chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
"We're starting to see evidence that developed international and emerging markets are stabilizing to show modest improvement. That's a net positive for multinational U.S. companies, and a reason to expect U.S. stocks to trend higher in the latter part of this year and into 2014."
Thursday's labor report serves as a precursor for Friday's closely watched nonfarm-payroll data for July. Labor-market data are in close focus as key determinants for the Fed about what to do with its open-ended stimulus efforts.
On Wednesday, the Fed said in a statement that it would maintain its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program that is meant to stimulate growth, but investors said they still expect the central bank to begin to pare back its efforts later this year if the economy continues to improve. Last month, those worries prompted a rise in bond yields and a sharp drop in stocks.
Traders voiced concerns that a positive jobs report Friday could underscore Fed stimulus timing concerns, unravel the bond market and then spill into stocks.
"We want to see a jobs number that is strong enough to keep things moving, but not strong enough to elevate the 'tapering' risk," said David Robin, co-head of financial futures and options at brokerage Newedge.
Yields on benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds rose Thursday to 2.68% as prices fell. Gold futures ticked higher by 0.1% to $1,313 a troy ounce, while crude-oil futures gained 2.6% to $107.72 a barrel. The dollar fell versus the euro and rose against the yen.
source-The wall street journal http://online.wsj.com