Closing Update: Stocks Surge as Unemployment Claims Data Boosts Expectations For January Jobs Report

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Stocks rallied on market friendly data on the U.S. job market and upbeat earnings from Dow component Walt Disney ( DIS ) and other firms, with the Dow Industrials posting a triple-digit gain. The Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 also posted strong gains, led by shares of homebuilders as falling Treasury yields were seen translating into more-attractive mortgage rates.

Ahead of the Labor Department tomorrow issuing January payrolls, investors were encouraged by a greater-than-expected decline in new unemployment claims, with first-time applications for unemployment insurance falling by 20,000 claims to 331,000 during the week ended Feb. 1. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a decrease to 335,000.

Other positive news included a 3.2% rise in Q4 non-farm productivity over an upwardly revised 3.6% increase in Q3. Unit labor costs fell by more than double the 0.7% decline the Street had been expecting and followed a downward revision for Q3 levels.

Also today, the U.S. trade deficit widened in December to $38.7 billion from an upwardly revised deficit of $34.6 billion in November, the Commerce Department reported. That was slightly wider than the $36.0 billion deficit in the market consensus.

Crude oil for February delivery was up 46 cents at $97.84 per barrel while February natural gas fell 11 cents to settle at $4.93 per 1 million BTU, giving back earlier gains after a government report today showed a smaller-than-expected pull in commercial supplies last week than the market consensus.

Here's where the U.S. Markets stood at end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average up 188.30 (+1.22%) to 15,628.53

S&P 500 up 21.79 (+1.24%) to 1,773.43

Nasdaq Composite Index up 45.57 (+1.14%) to 4,057.12

GLOBAL SENTIMENT

Hang Seng Index up 0.72%

Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.82%

FTSE 100 Index up 1.55%

UPSIDE MOVERS

(+) GMCR, Coca-Cola ( KO ) buys 10% equity stake in the coffee company after signing 10-year agreement to collaborate on a home beverage-dispensing system. Fiscal Q1 EPS of $0.96 on a 4% year over year rise in revenue to $1.4 bln both top expectations.

(+) AKAM, Earns $0.55 per share in Q4, beating the analyst consensus on Capital IQ by $0.03.

(+) USG, Posts a quarterly profit for the first time since 2007, also topping Wall Street expectations for Q4 earnings by $0.09 per share.

DOWNSIDE MOVERS

(-) TWTR, Shares slump despite better-than-expected Q4 EPS and revenue after decelerating user growth and engagement metrics disappointed investors.

(-) OCN, New York state regulators table the company's $2.7 bln deal to buy mortgage-servicing rights from Wells Fargo ( WFC ) because of concerns over its ability to handle more loan business, people briefed on the action told the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

(-) P, Q4 revenue narrowly misses Street view; Guides Q1 net loss at least $0.02 wider than estimates while projected FY14 EPS is at least $0.02 under the Capital IQ consensus.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: DIS , KO , WFC

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