U.S. stocks rallied in morning trading on Thursday after a pair of positive signs about the labor market pointed to improving conditions a day before the U.S. nonfarm payroll report.
Equities added to their gains throughout the morning session, though market participation remained low as investors continued to deal with the aftermath of the massive storm Sandy in the U.S. northeast, which had forced a historic two-day market closure earlier this week.
Weekly jobless claims unexpectedly fell in the latest week, dropping to 363,000 from a revised 372,000 in the previous week. Separately, the ADP National Employment report showed 158,000 private sector jobs were added in October, far more than had been expected. The ADP Report was based on a different methodology than previous months, which could impact comparisons.
"There is a general trend of things getting more positive, which should help stocks and the economy at large going forward," said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland, Ohio.
Markets are still recovering from the aftermath of Sandy, a massive storm that wreaked havoc up and down the U.S. eastern seaboard and forced markets to close Monday and Tuesday. Trading could be volatile, with many market participants unable to reach their offices, or working from home amid persisting power outages and limited mass transit.
Still, some stocks saw heavy action.
JDA Software Group soared 17 percent to $44.79 after it agreed to be bought by privately held supply chain software maker RedPrairie Corp for about $1.9 billion in cash.
Pfizer Inc, which delayed the release of its results because of the storm, posted revenue that fell far short of expectations, sending shares down 1.4 percent to $24.52.
Exxon Mobil Corp, which along with Pfizer is a Dow component, was flat after posting a drop in its quarterly profit.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 133.92 points, or 1.02 percent, at 13,230.38. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 11.46 points, or 0.81 percent, at 1,423.62. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 30.7 points, or 1 percent, at 3,007.93.
The S&P 500 fell 2 percent in the month of October, breaking a four-month streak of gains.
In other economic data, a read on October consumer confidence came in at 72.2, slightly under expectations, while construction spending rose 0.6 percent, as forecast. A survey of U.S. manufacturing conditions rose in September to hit its best levels since May.
Overseas markets were higher, with Europe boosted by strong results from such companies as Royal Dutch Shell and Chinese shares posting their strongest daily gains in more than three weeks on bullish data.
U.S. shares of Sony Corp rose 1 percent to $11.86 after posting a profit in its latest quarter and affirming its full-year view.
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