By Jonathan Cheng
Investors dove back into the stock market Wednesday despite some gloomy jobs data, jumping into September on a bullish note following a brutal August.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 124 points, or 1.3%, at 10140 in early trading, while the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index (SPX) added 1.4% to 1064 and the Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) rose 1.6% to 2147.
The strong start to the morning follows a dismal month that saw the Dow drop 4.3%, its worst August in nearly a decade.
It also comes in spite of a deflating jobs report, which showed private-sector employment falling by a seasonally-adjusted 10,000 jobs in August, a surprise contraction that is the first in six months. Economists had been expecting a gain of 17,000 private-sector jobs.
Investors have been closely scrutinizing recent employment data, searching for evidence of a continuing recovery. On Friday, the market will be awaiting official monthly nonfarm-payrolls data, which include both private and public sector hiring.
On Wednesday, investors were also looking for manufacturing and construction spending data. In the early afternoon, Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, is scheduled to speak on the economy. Car-sales data for August will also be reported during the session.
Investors will also be keeping an eye on retailers after MasterCard Advisors, which crunches data from credit cards, checks and cash payments to form sales estimates, said sales numbers were far short of 2008 levels for the critical back-to-school shopping season. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT) gained 0.8% and Target (TGT) advanced 1.2 in early trading%, while JC Penney (JCP) and The Gap (GPS) gained 1.8% and 2% respectively.
On the corporate front, Burger King (BKC) surged 14% after the Wall Street Journal reported the burger chain is in talks with private-equity firms about a possible sale, citing unnamed sources.
Apple (AAPL) rose 1.8% as the tech giant prepared for a news conference to unveil new products.
Borders Group (BGP) edged up 0.9% even as the bookstore chain operator reported a wider loss amid sales pressure and squeezed margins.
H.J. Heinz (HNZ) slipped 0.1% after reporting a 13% increase in earnings as the food-processing company benefited from continued growth in emerging markets, though revenues disappointed.
Asian shares posted gains overnight, buoyed by encouraging manufacturing data from China and better-than-expected growth in Australia, which allayed some near-term worries about the global economy.
In Sydney, the S&P/ASX 200 index rose 2.1% after gross domestic product rose a better-than-expected 1.2% in the second quarter from the first quarter. European shares also gained, with the Stoxx Europe 600 index rising 1.3% in intraday trading.
Treasurys fell broadly, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year note (UST10Y) rising to 2.53%.
In the currency markets, the euro rose 1.2% to $1.2833. The U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of six currencies, fell 1.1%. The Bank for International Settlements reported that daily turnover in the world's foreign-exchange markets has soared to $4 trillion this year.
Commodity prices rallied, with October crude-oil futures gaining 1.4% to nearly $73 a barrel, ahead of official oil inventory numbers slated for 10:30 a.m. EST. Oil prices tumbled in August amid growth concerns and unusually high inventory levels. Copper futures rose more than 2%.